CHAPTER 4
Nash Model
4.1 Introduction
Water resources development and planning require Hydrologic Transform
Models to assess runoff from a catchment. For catchments having scanty
data the unit hydrograph technique is very useful for this purpose. This part of
research determines a unique pair of hydrologic parameters of Nash Model
using optimization. The model is applied to a catchment with hill torrent flows
in semiarid region of Pakistan. Computer program is developed to
systematically estimate the related parameters of model. Analysis Group
(NAG) subroutine is used for optimization. Finally the direct surface runoff
(DSRH) is simulated using the model. The data regarding rainfall runoff was
collected from Punjab Irrigation and Power Department, Pakistan. Model
calibration and validation was made for 15 rainfall runoff events. Ten events
were used for calibration and five for validation. Various objective functions
are tested to find the best solution. The suitability of 4 objective functions is
investigated for developing direct runoff hydrograph (DRH).
It is found that NashSutcliffe coefficient (Nash and Sutcliffe 1970) and
weighted root mean square error (RMSE) are most suitable for determination
of Nash model parameters when full shape of the direct surface runoff
hydrograph is known.
The sensitivity of the Nash model output against variation in hydrologic
parameters (number of linear cascade (n) and storage coefficient (k) is also
72
investigated. It is found that the model output is more sensitive to the
parameter of number of linear cascade (n) as compared to the parameter
of storage coefficient (k). Also uniqueness of Nash Model parameters is
established. The suitability of the Nash model application to ungauged
catchments is also described.
Hydrologic modeling plays key role in water resources planning and
management. Limited availability of hydrologic data is major hurdle towards
implementation of detailed hydrologic models. In cases of limited data the
simple hydrologic models consisting of minimum number (one or two) of
model parameters are suitable for planning water resources. The simple
conceptual model like the Nash’s Model of linear cascades is very effective
in simulating Hydrologic Transform Model process as its parameters can be
determined indirectly by computations. It is fact that these cannot be
measured physically (Patil 2006) although these represent some physical
phenomenon indirectly. This type of model is useful for flood forecasting and
design purposes (Bardossy 2007). The estimation of hydrologic parameters is
complex and various efforts have been made to simplify it.
The most commonly used method for estimation of hydrologic parameters is
based on calibration of the model, implementing boundary conditions and
simulating the Hydrologic Transform Model process such that the set of
parameter values obeys the imposed constraints.
Nash (1958) proposed estimation of hydrologic parameters (n, k) through
method of moments. This estimation technique depends on temporal
distribution of rainfall and runoff and hence the errors in observed and
computed hydrologic output are high (Dong 2007). Further a different pair of
hydrologic model parameters is obtained for every event. Then a single pair
of parameters representing Hydrologic Transform Model process for all events
of catchment is determined by their average. Hydrologic modeling package
HMSHEC (2000) contains built in non linear constrained optimization
73
technique with a normalized objective function that was developed in 1998
(Michel 1998).
This technique requires averaging of computed hydrologic parameters.
Rosso (1984) developed equations for Nash Model parameters by relating
them to the geomorphologic descriptors of the catchment. These empirical
equations require estimation of velocity which in turn requires a relationship
for it. Various attempts have been made to estimate this velocity by relating it
to physical characteristics of the catchment (Zalazainski 1986, AlWagdany
1997, Sahoo etal 2006). However, this technique requires that the velocity
itself be taken as a calibrating parameter which ultimately increases the
number of hydrologic parameters to be estimated.
Absence of channel translation in Nash Model is one of its drawbacks. Singh
et al (2007) proposed an extended hybrid model for simulation of Hydrologic
Transform Model process based on Nash Model. In this approach, the number
of hybrid units and pair of storage coefficients were prefixed using empirical
equations.
The associated translation is determined through model calibration. Their
technique also produces different set of parameters for various events and
hence the determination of a unique set of parameters still needs to be
further investigated.
Bardossy (2007) also determined more than one set of Nash Model
parameters for estimation of runoff hydrograph at a particular gauge site. In
this study, a methodology is developed by using comparative study of 4
objective functions to arrive at a unique pair of Nash Model parameters using
average value of objective function for calibration events. The pair of
hydrologic parameters represents lumped runoff response of a particular
catchment.
74
4.2 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
4.2.1 Nash Model of Linear Cascades
There are two analytical versions of Nash model which are used in catchment
routing. The first one uses instantaneous unit hydrograph obtained by
applying continuity equation. In this concept, the IUH flow rate is given by
(Serrano 1997):
n
k t n
IUH
k n
e At
t Q
) (
2778 . 0
) (
/ 1
I
=
÷ ÷
(4.1)
Where ) (t Q
IUH
is IUH flow rate at time t in m
3
/s, t is time from start of excess
precipitation in hours, n & k are hydrologic model parameters, n being unit
less, k being in hours and A is catchment area in km
2
. ) (n I is a two parameter
gamma function having no units.
The second analytical form is used by SSARR (Stream flow Synthesis and
Reservoir Regulation) model (USACE, 1986). It is expressed as:
 
n
t
n
t t
n
t
Q Q Q
k t
k t
A Q
1 1
1
1
)) / ( 2 (
) / (
) 9 / 25 (
+ +
+
+
+ ÷
A +
A
= (4.2)
Where
t
Q represents discharge in m³/s at time t in hour, t A is computational
time interval in hour , n & k are Nash Model hydrologic parameters, n having
no units and k is in hour,
t
Q is mean discharge in m
3
/s, 25/9 is units conversion
factor and A is catchment area in square kilometer. Equation 4.2 defines
Comment [m9]: Add units of parameters for the
aboveequation here
Comment [m10]: Add units
75
complete shape of the surface runoff hydrograph with excess rain
hyetograph being the input to the model.
In this study, use of equation 4.2 is preferred over equation 4.1 due to the fact
that gamma function for real numbers can be approximated only. Also
equation 4.2 is suitable for simulation relatively easily on a computer.
4.3 Determining the Hydrologic Model Parameters
In equation (4.2), n and k are hydrologic parameters of model where n is
number of linear cascades/reservoirs and k is storage coefficient. It defines
the catchment response by routing excess rain hyetograph through the
hypothetical linear reservoirs at the catchment outlet. Nash model has two
hydrologic parameters and equation (4.2) is redundant by one degree. The
main problem is to find unique pair of parameters that gives representative
catchment response. Determination of parameters of model is an inverse
problem.
These are determined by obtaining a good match between the observed and
simulated results by using optimization techniques. All optimization techniques
are based upon minimizing/maximizing a function called objective function.
Choice of objective function plays an important role in optimization. The
objective functions that were used for Clark’s model (chapter 2, Section 2.2)
have also been employed for Nash model.
4.4 Model Performance
The model efficiency and peak weighted root mean square error were
selected to test the performance of the model as proposed by Nash and
Sutcliffe (1970) and USACE (1998). These have already been explained in
chapter 2, section 2.3.
4.5 SENSITIVITY OF THE MODEL PARAMETERS
76
Sensitivity analyses were conducted to determine the relative importance of
parameter n and k of the Nash model. This was done by using formula for
calculating relative sensitivity given below (James and Burges, 1982 and
Katli et. al, 2005)
(
¸
(
¸
÷
÷
(
¸
(
¸
=
1 2
1 2
x x
y y
y
x
S
r
(4.3)
Where Sr is relative sensitivity with units of objective function units divided by
units of hydrologic parameter whose sensitivity is being measured, x is
hydrologic parameter and y is the predicted output. x1=x+∆x and x2=x∆x are
parameter values that result in output of y1 and y2 respectively. In Nash
model parameters are n and k whereas the predicted output is adopted as
certain objective function.
4.6 STUDY AREA
The characteristics of study area were explained in chapter 2, section 2.1.
Nash’s model was applied to Kaha catchment.
4.7 Optimization to identify Nash Model parameters
The optimization routine explained in chapter 2, section 2.2.2 has been
applied for Nash model and different steps involved in estimating n and k are
shown in a flow chart in Figure 4.1.
Comment [m11]: What is Sr and its unit?
77
Fig. 4.1 Schematic of Proposed Method for Nash’s IUH model simulation
4.8 RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
4.8.1 Calibration of Nash Model
The results based on the objective function F1 are given in Figure 4.2. In order
to find unique n and k, sum of square errors between observed and
computed runoff hydrographs for all the ten calibration events corresponding
to each calculation of F1 are plotted in Figure 4.3 and numerical values are
given in Table 4.1 and 4.2.
Excess Rain Hyetograph
(Calibration Events)
No. of Linear Cascades (n) Storage Coefficient (k)
(Trial Value)
Nash Hydrologic Transform Model Transform
Model
n
t
n
t t
n
t
Q Q Q
k t
k t
A Q
1 1
1
1
)) / ( 2 (
) / (
) 9 / 25 (
+ +
+
+
+
(
¸
(
¸
÷
A +
A
=
Compute Objective
Function (Average)
Is Objective Function
Minimized
Compute Model
Performance
No
Yes
78

0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
5 10 15 20 25
Storage Coefficient, k (hours)
O
b
j
e
c
t
i
v
e
F
u
n
c
t
i
o
n
,
F
1
n=1 n=2 n=3 n=4 n=5
Fig. 4.2 Storage Coefficient vs Objective Function F1
Table 4.1 gives the optimum k value corresponding to minimum objective
function for different values of n. As observed from this table, the value of n of
3 yields minimum sum of square error. However this single constraint of
minimum sum of square error does not define best n & k pair. It was necessary
to evaluate model performance prior to deciding which pair is the best. For
the purpose NS coefficient and weighted RMSE were calculated and shown
in Table 4.3 & 4.4. The model performance was best at n value of 4, therefore
the best pair of Nash model parameters based on objective function F1 is
found as (n, k)=(4, 9.04).
79

10,000
20,000
30,000
40,000
50,000
60,000
70,000
80,000
90,000
 5 10 15 20 25 30
Storage Coefficient, k (hours)
S
u
m
o
f
S
q
u
a
r
e
s
(
f
o
r
F
1
)
n=1 n=2 n=3 n=4 n=5
Fig. 4.3 Sum of Square Error for Objective Function F1
The results based on objective function F2 consisting of absolute sum of errors
are shown in Figure 4.4. The minimum value of the objective function F2 is
observed at n=5. However, the Nash model performance indicators
advocate n=4 (Table 4.3 & 4.4) yielding maximum efficiency and weighted
root mean square error. The best pair therefore is selected as (n, k)=(4, 9.21).
This justifies the importance of present research. It is obvious from this
exercise that only the minimum value of objective function cannot define
best pair of hydrologic model parameters.
The objective function F3 consisting of sum of square errors gives k value of
21.41 hours at n=2 (see Figure 4.5). However at this level, the model efficiency
is as lower as 0.61 and RMSE on higher side having value of 425 (m
3
/s). As
shown in Table 4.3 and 4.4, the pair (4, 9.11) gives best model performance.
80
Finally, the objective function F4 was employed for seek of unique (n, k) pair
which incorporates in itself another important characteristic of direct runoff
hydrograph (DRH), the time to peak along with peak discharge. The
computed value of F4 corresponding to k is plotted in Figure 4.6. The shape of
the curves indicate slight discontinuities due to selected computational time
interval of one hour as was used in Clark’s model, however minimum value of
F4 is observed at (5,7.09). Despite the fact that minimum weighted root mean
square error is observed at this point, the efficiency of the model is slightly
reduced. The efficiency is maximum at (n=4, k=8.46). Therefore this pair was
selected as unique pair of Nash model parameters.
Table 4.1 Optimum value of Storage Coefficient, k (hours)
For Calibration Events
F1 F2 F3 F4
n Storage Coefficient, k (hours)
1 25 25 25 25
2 14.82 21.84 21.41 20.29
3 10.92 12.75 11.11 10.29
4 9.04 9.21 9.11 8.46
5 7.89 7.35 5.12 7.09
6 7.08 6.15 4.22 6.06
Once it was concluded that the model efficiency defined here by Nash
Sutcliffe coefficient as the deciding parameter, it was tried to use NS
Coefficient and RMSE as objective functions. These are plotted in Figures 4.7
and 4.8. Both converge at point (4, 9.0). This is the unique pair of Nash model
parameters that represents lumped Hydrologic Transform Model process of
the catchment under study which results in unique DRH at the catchment
outlet with only single input of temporally distributed excess rain hyetograph.
The advantage of Nash model is demonstrated clearly that one can simulate
81
DRH for any design storm hyetograph at the catchment outlet. This is
particularly valuable for ungauged catchments where limited or scarce
hydrologic data is available.
The various error measures of the Nash Model are given in Table 4.5. The error
in peak discharge varies from 14% to 2% whereas time to peak is under
estimated by 8% to 3%.
Table 4.2 Optimum value of Dimensionless Objective Function
for Calibration Events
F1 (SOSE) F2 F3 F4
n Values of Objective Function
1 708 9962 707 30.26
2 402 3086 299 5.81
3 313 1895 312 2.94
4 1505 1044 864 0.99
5 5283 1012 2492 0.51
6 15735 1756 5014 0.92
82

5,000
10,000
15,000
20,000
25,000
 5 10 15 20 25
Storage Coefficient, k (hour)
A
S
O
E
n=1 n=2 n=3 n=4 n=5 n=6
Fig. 4.4 Variation of Objective Function F2 with k, the storage coefficient
Table 4.3 NS Coefficient corresponding to optimum, k
n F1 F2 F3 F4
(NashSutcliffe coefficient)
1 0.90 0.90 0.90 0.90
2 0.42 0.59 0.61 0.64
3 0.83 0.87 0.85 0.76
4 0.94 0.95 0.94 0.93
5 0.85 0.92 0.13 0.93
6 0.61 0.86 0.06 0.87
83

500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
3,000
 5 10 15 20 25 30
Storage coefficient, k (hours)
O
b
j
e
c
t
i
v
e
F
u
n
c
t
i
o
n
F
2
n=1 n=2 n=3 n=4 n=5
Fig. 4.5 Sum of Square Error for Objective Function F3
The runoff volume is under estimated by 11%. The NashSutcliffe coefficient
varies from 0.93 to 0.96 for ten calibration events showing model efficiency
more than satisfactory. The weighted root mean square error ranges from 56
to 250 whereas the latter being maximum is for extreme event indicating non
homogeneity in Hydrologic Transform Model process. These results provoke
effectiveness of Nash model usage for simulation of Hydrologic Transform
Model process for catchment under study. The calibration events are plotted
in Figure 4.9 showing a coefficient of determination of 0.98 for observed and
computed flows showing close relation between observed and computed
discharges.
84
Table 4.4 RMSE corresponding to optimum k
n F1 F2 F3 F4
(Weighted Root Mean Square Error [RMSE])
1 887 887 887 887
2 526 432 425 413
3 291 232 276 357
4 135 136 134 181
5 220 157 683 157
6 388 233 763 229

0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
5 10 15 20
Storage Coefficient, k (hours)
O
b
j
e
c
t
i
v
e
F
u
n
c
t
i
o
n
n=2 n=3 n=4 n=5 n=6
Fig. 4.6 Variation of Objective Function F4 with k, the storage coefficient,
85

500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
3,000
 5 10 15 20 25 30
Storage Coefficient, k (hours)
W
e
i
g
h
t
e
d
R
S
M
E
n=1 n=2 n=3 n=4 n=5 n=6
Fig. 4.7 Variation of RSME with k, the storage coefficient

0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1.0
5 10 15 20 25
Storage Coefficient, k (hours)
N
a
s
h

S
u
t
c
l
i
f
f
e
C
o
e
f
f
i
c
i
e
n
t
n=2 n=3 n=4 n=5 n=6
Fig. 4.8 Variation of NSCoefficient with k, the storage coefficient
86
R
2
=0.9778

500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
3,000
3,500
 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 3,500
Ordinates of Observed Runoff Hydrographs (m
3
/s)
O
r
d
i
n
a
t
e
s
o
f
C
o
m
p
u
t
e
d
R
u
n
o
f
f
H
y
d
r
o
g
r
a
p
h
s
(
m
3
/
s
)
Fig. 4.9 Observed and Computed Runoff for 10 Calibration Events
4.8.2 Validation of Model
Once the unique pair (n, k)=(4,9) is known, the five validation events are
synthesized and various catchment characteristics are computed as shown
in Table 4.5. The error in peak discharge is maximum by 8%, the peak time is
under estimated by 3%. The error in runoff volume is around 6% except the
event number 14 where it is 11%. The NashSutcliffe coefficient is around 0.94
and RMSE value is 96 maximum. These indicators validate the model for future
use. The observed and computed discharge for the validation events is
plotted in Figure 4.10 yielding satisfactory coefficient of determination. When
all the calibration and validation events are plotted (Figure 4.11), a high
value of coefficient of determination is observed at low and medium
discharge whereas slight deviation is observed at highest discharge values.
87
Table 4.5 Model Errors and Performance
C
a
l
i
b
r
a
t
i
o
n
1 13 0 4 0.94 64
2 6 8 1 0.95 250
3 12 3 2 0.94 113
4 5 0 9 0.93 56
5 6 6 0 0.96 141
6 +2 6 9 0.95 217
7 5 6 2 0.96 143
8 14 3 4 0.94 120
9 5 3 5 0.95 82
10 11 6 5 0.95 169
V
a
l
i
d
a
t
i
o
n
11 8 3 3 0.95 84
12 7 3 3 0.95 91
13 4 3 6 0.95 80
14 0 3 11 0.94 96
15 8 0 6 0.93 77
Event No. Error (%) Performance
Peak
Discharge
Peak
Time
Runoff
Volume
NS
Coefficie
nt
RMSE
88
R
2
=0.9791

600
1,200
1,800
 600 1,200 1,800
Ordinates of Observed Runoff Hydrographs (m
3
/s)
O
r
d
i
n
a
t
e
s
o
f
C
o
m
p
u
t
e
d
R
u
n
o
f
f
H
y
d
r
o
g
r
a
p
h
s
(
m
3
/
s
)
Fig. 4.10 Observed and Computed Runoff for 5 Validation Events
R
2
=0.9781

500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
3,000
3,500
 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 3,500
Ordinates of Observed Runoff Hydrographs (m
3
/s)
O
r
d
i
n
a
t
e
s
o
f
C
o
m
p
u
t
e
d
R
u
n
o
f
f
H
y
d
r
o
g
r
a
p
h
s
(
m
3
/
s
)
Fig. 4.11 Observed and Computed Runoff for all Events
89
4.8.3 Sensitivity of Hydrologic Parameters n & k
The values of n and k are varied and relative sensitivity of the objective
functions is observed. As shown in Figure 4.12, for the equal variation of n and
k, higher value of relative sensitivity is noted when n is varied as compared to
that when k is varied. This shows that Nash Model output is more sensitive to n
value as compared to k value.

1
2
3
4
5
6
 2 4 6 8 10 12
Nash model parameters, k, n
R
e
l
a
t
i
v
e
s
e
n
s
i
t
i
v
i
t
y
storsge coefficient, k no. of linear cascades
Fig. 4.12 Sensitivity of Nash Model Parameters
4.9 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
A method to estimate Number of Linear Cascades (n) and Storage
Coefficient (k) to develop Direct Runoff Hydrograph based on Nash Model is
presented. The value of n is estimated from family of curves drawn between
storage coefficient and certain objective functions. The analytical form of
90
Nash model is adopted from SAAR model. The optimum and unique pair of
(n, k) is determined using iterative method. Direct surface runoff hydrograph
(DSRH) is developed for a large catchment with area of 5598 square
kilometers in a semiarid region of Pakistan that experiences hill torrent flows.
Four different objective functions are used in optimization to determine the
sensitivity of number of linear cascades and storage coefficient k. The results
during validation are very good with model efficiency of more than 95% and
root mean square error of less than 8%.
The following main conclusions are derived from this study:
 It is not always necessary to develop regional equations for estimating
Nash Model parameters. These can be determined from Hydrologic
Transform Model observations for a particular catchment and depend on
the length of data used for determination of these parameters. To get
stable values of n and k, longer Hydrologic Transform Model records are
preferable which is the most crucial for catchments having scanty data.
Value of n and k depend on the size of the catchment, hydrologic
abstractions and temporal distribution of excess rain.
 For limited data the objective function based on NashSutcliffe coefficient
and Weighted Root Mean Square Error gives better results as compared to
the objective function based on the Sum of Square Errors.
 DSRH shape is more sensitive to n value than that of k showing that runoff
diffusion phenomenon is dominant as compared to translation flow effects
when evaluating hydrologic response of catchments of large size.
 Nash’s unit hydrograph generally under estimates runoff volume.
 DSRH derived from Nash model gives acceptable accuracy and model
parameters can be easily updated as additional Hydrologic Transform
Model data becomes available. However, updating of the parameters is
possible only for gauged catchments.
Although the proposed method is applied to a catchment having observed
rainfall and peak flow data, it can be applied to ungauged catchments by
91
simulating hypothetical storms and survey of highest flood marks at the outlet.
Value of n & k determined for single flood event (corresponding to highest
flood marks) can be used to compute different runoff hydrographs for
different design storms.
4.10 References
AlWagdany A.S., Rao A.R., 1997, Estimation of the velocity parameter of the
geomorphologic instantaneous unit hydrograph, Water Res. Manag., 11, pp.
116
Bardossy, A., 2007, Calibration of hydrologic model parameters for ungauged
catchments, Hydrol. and Earth Sys. Sci., 11, pp. 703710.
Dong., S.H., 2007, Genetic algorithm based parameter estimation of Nash
Model, J. of Water Resour. Manag., DOI 10.1007/s1126900792086.
Hydrologic Engineering Centre (HEC), 2000, HECHMS user’s manual, Davis,
California.
James, L.D. and S.J. Burges, 1982. Selection, calibration and testing of
hydrologic models. Hydrologic modeling of small watersheds, C.T. Hann, H.P.
Johnson, and D.L. Brakensiek (Editors). ASAE Monograph, St. Joseph,
Michigan, pp. 437472.
Kati L, Indrajeet C., 2005, Sensitivity analysis, calibration and validation for a
multisite and multivariable SWAT model, J. of the Am. Water Res. Ass., 41(5),
pp. 10771089.
92
Michel C. B., 1998, Unit hydrographs derived from the Nash model, J. Am.
Wat. Res. Assoc., Vol. 34, No. 1, pp 167177.
Nash, J. E. (1957). “The form of instantaneous unit hydrograph.” Int. Assn. Sci.
Hydro. Publ. No. 51, 546557, IAHS, Gentbrugge, Belgium.
Nash, J. E. and Sutcliffe, J. V. 1970. River flow forecasting through conceptual
models, PartI: A discussion of principles. J. Hydrol., 10(3), 282290.
Patil S., Bardossy A., 2006, Regionalization of runoff coefficient and
parameters of an event based Nashcascade model for predictions in
ungauged basins, Geophy. Resea. Abst., 8(74).
Rosso, R (1984). “Nash model relation to Horton order ratios.” Water Resour.
Res., 20(7), 914920
Sahoo B., Chandarnath C., Narendra S. R., Rajendra S., Rakesh K., 2006, Flood
Estimation by GIUH based Clark and Nash models., J. of Hydrol. Eng., 11(6),
pp. 515525.
Serrano, S. E., 1997, Hydrology for Engineers, Geologists and Envirornmental
Professionals, HydroScience Inc., Lexington, Kentucky, pp. 263268.
Singh P. K., Bhunya P. K., Mishra S. K., Chaube, U. C., 2007 An extended hybrid
model for synthetic unit hydrograph derivation, J. of Hydrol., 336, pp. 347360.
USACE, 1986, Program Description and User Mannual for SSARR Model,
Portland, Oregon.
93
Zelazinski J., 1986, Application of the geomorphological instantaneous unit
hydrograph theory to development of forecasting models in Poland, Hydro.
Scien., 31(2), pp. 263270.