Calibration of the LISEM model for a small Loess Plateau catchment

Rudi Hessel*, Victor Jetten, Liu Baoyuan, Zhang Yan, Jannes Stolte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)
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The Limburg Soil Erosion Model (LISEM) soil erosion model was calibrated for a 2-km2 catchment on the Chinese Loess Plateau. The most important calibration factors were saturated conductivity and Manning's n. Calibration on catchment discharge was done by using the discharge peak (timing and discharge) followed by an adjustment for the total discharge to obtain the correct amount of sediment output. The results showed that LISEM can be successfully calibrated for a Loess Plateau catchment, and that small runoff events need to be calibrated separately from large runoff events. A separate calibration might even be needed for each event. The model performance was also evaluated using catchment wide spatially distributed data on rill erosion. Rill erosion intensity was mapped in the field and compared to spatial patterns of erosion predicted by LISEM. The simulated erosion patterns do show some resemblance with mapped erosion patterns in a general sense but they are very different in detail. The cause for this can be found in the extremely steep slopes and abrupt slope changes in the catchment. Some of the process descriptions in LISEM are not intended for such an environment, while the grid based kinematic wave routing cannot cope with the abrupt changes in flow conditions. The effects of this are amplified by inaccuracies in the input data and the DEM. For topographically complex catchments it will be very difficult to obtain data that are good enough for an accurate simulation of erosion patterns. This limits the use of a model such as LISEM as a predictive tool for future events. Simulation of different land use scenarios is less problematic, if a known event is used for all scenario simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-254
Number of pages20
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2003


  • Calibration
  • Chinese Loess Plateau
  • Erosion patterns
  • Soil erosion
  • 2024 OA procedure
  • ADLIB-ART-2262
  • ESA


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