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Coupled GA-hydrological modeling for the optimal spatial distribution of biological soil and water conservation measures


Flood mitigation measures are aimed at reducing adverse flooding impacts. Flood source control schemes mainly concentrate on biological soil and water conservation measures (SWCMs) including the revival and preservation of soil and land use. Such activities prevent splash erosion, reduce the velocity of surface runoff, increase surface roughness that in turn improve infiltration and control soil erosion. Nevertheless, based on technical and budget constraints, uniform implementation of biological SCWMs is neither practical nor optimal. Previous studies on spatial optimization of BMPs (best management practices) have mostly focused on urban structural and/or biological BMPs. Besides, the incorporation of land use/cover and slope maps in source control site selection has not been thoroughly studied. In this research, cover–slope zones are proposed as spatial units for spatial optimization of biological SCWMs. The objective of this study was to determine the optimal spatial distribution of SWCMs using coupled simulation–optimization models. A fully distributed event-based deterministic hydrologic rainfall–runoff model was developed that involved SCS-CN (soil conservation service curve number), ModClark and Muskingum as infiltration, rainfall–runoff and stream routing model, respectively. Genetic algorithm was adopted to search the optimized areas based on two objective functions: minimization of the outlet peak discharge and the cost. Nardin sub-catchment in northern Iran was selected as the case study. For different degrees of flood peak reduction under 100-year design rainfall, the optimal patterns identified by the optimization algorithm were a combination of less effective/costly options (exclusion) and the most effective option (transplant). Accordingly, biological SCWMs were assigned from the farthest zone to the outlet, stretching into downstream zones.

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The authors appreciate the assistance of Dr. Hossain Saadat who provided useful comments and participated in fruitful discussions on the simulation of biological soil and water conservation options. He also kindly granted permission to use his GIS data sets. The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance and support of Mr. Mohammad Elmi and Mr. Mohammad Namdar for their technical assistance in programming as well as in spatial data analysis.

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Correspondence to Rouhangiz Akhtari.

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Edited by Dr. Robert Bialik (ASSOCIATE EDITOR) / Dr. Michael Nones (CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF).

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Akhtari, R., Saghafian, B., Noroozpour, S. et al. Coupled GA-hydrological modeling for the optimal spatial distribution of biological soil and water conservation measures. Acta Geophys. 70, 1815–1828 (2022).

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  • Spatial optimization model
  • Cover–slope map
  • Non-structural flood source control
  • Re-vegetation
  • Computational constraint