WEPPCAT: An Online Tool for Assessing and Managing the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Sediment Loading to Streams Using the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) Model


EPA is announcing the availability of a new tool called WEPPCAT, which was developed by USDA-ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center through an Interagency Agreement with the ORD/NCEA Global Change Research Program.


WEPPCAT is an on-line tool that provides a flexible capability for creating user-determined climate change scenarios for assessing the potential impacts of climate change on sediment loading to streams using the USDA’s Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) Model. In combination with the existing capabilities of WEPP for assessing the effectiveness of management practices, WEPPCAT also can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies for managing the impacts of climate change.

WEPPCAT logoSediment loading from agricultural areas is a major source of stream impairment in the U.S., affecting water quality and aquatic organisms. During the last century, much of the U.S. experienced gradually warming temperatures, increases in precipitation, and increases in the intensity of precipitation events. Recent studies suggest that in many areas, these changes will result in increased soil erosion from agricultural fields during the next century. To protect water quality and aquatic habitats over a range of time scales, BMP strategies must be developed that are robust to potential changes in climate. Little is known, however, about how current management practices such as riparian buffers could be used to mitigate potential impacts of climate change. It is also not clear how climate change will impact the effectiveness of existing BMPs. Long-term planning will be particularly important for the effective use of BMPs such as the restoration of forested riparian buffers, which may take decades to fully mature after project implementation. Models and decision support tools are required to assess the impacts of climate change on sediment loading to streams, and guide the development of BMP strategies for sediment that are robust to potential changes in climate.


This is the final product.