Estimating the impacts of land cover change on runoff using SWAT: Case study: Nzoia catchment, Kenya
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The SWAT model was used to investigate the impact of land-cover changes on the runoff of the River Nzoia catchment, Kenya. The model was calibrated against measured daily discharge, and land-cover changes were examined through classification of satellite images. Land-cover change scenarios were generated, namely the worst- and best-case scenarios. Historical land-cover change results showed that agricultural area increased from 39.6 to 64.3% between 1973 and 2001, while forest cover decreased from 12.3 to 7.0%. A comparison between 1970–1975 and 1980–1985 showed that land-cover changes accounted for a difference in surface runoff ranging from 55 to 68% between the two time periods. The land-cover scenarios used showed the magnitude of changes in runoff due to changes in the land covers considered. Compared to the 1980–1985 runoff, the land-cover scenarios generated changes in runoff of about −16% and 30% for the best and worst case scenarios respectively.