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UNIVERSITT STUTTGART

INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING


CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I
October 2003

Institute of Hydraulic Engineering, Universitt Stuttgart, Germany


Pfaffenwaldring 61 * D-70550 Stuttgart
Phone: 0711/685-4679 * Fax: 0711/685-4681 * e-mail: bardossy@iws.uni-stuttgart.de

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - I

Table of contents
1

Hydrology.................................................................................................................... 1

1.1

Preface......................................................................................................................................1

1.2

The hydrologic cycle .................................................................................................................2


1.2.1 World water balance.................................................................................................................... 3

1.3

Water regime ............................................................................................................................6


1.3.1 The fundamental equation of water balance ................................................................................. 6
1.3.2 Variations of the water regime components ................................................................................. 9
1.3.3 Climatic zones........................................................................................................................... 10

1.4

Hydrologic cycle of a drainage basin........................................................................................ 11


1.4.1 Construction of a drainage basin................................................................................................ 13

Precipitation .............................................................................................................. 14

2.1

Meteorology............................................................................................................................ 14
2.1.1 Formation of precipitation ......................................................................................................... 14
2.1.2 Types of precipitation ................................................................................................................ 16
2.1.3 Forms of precipitation ............................................................................................................... 16

2.2

Temporal and spatial variability of precipitation ...................................................................... 18

2.3

Parameters of precipitation...................................................................................................... 20

2.4

Measuring precipitation........................................................................................................... 21
2.4.1 Measuring point precipitation.................................................................................................... 21
2.4.2 Errors in measurement of point precipitation ............................................................................. 23
2.4.3 Remote sensing of precipitation ................................................................................................. 23

2.5

Interpolation and areal precipitation......................................................................................... 29


2.5.1
2.5.2
2.5.3
2.5.4
2.5.5
2.5.6

Preface ...................................................................................................................................... 29
Arithmetic mean method ........................................................................................................... 29
Thiessen polygon method .......................................................................................................... 30
Inverse-distance method ............................................................................................................ 31
Isohyetal method ....................................................................................................................... 33
Geostatistical methods............................................................................................................... 34

2.6

Extreme value statistics ........................................................................................................... 35

Evaporation............................................................................................................... 38

3.1

Preface.................................................................................................................................... 38

3.2

Types of evaporation............................................................................................................... 38
3.2.1
3.2.2
3.2.3
3.2.4

3.3

Evaporation............................................................................................................................... 38
Interception ............................................................................................................................... 39
Transpiration............................................................................................................................. 39
Potential and actual evaporation ................................................................................................ 39

Measurement of evaporation.................................................................................................... 40
3.3.1 Water balance methods.............................................................................................................. 40

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - II

3.3.2 Water vapor stream method....................................................................................................... 42


3.3.3 Energy balance method ............................................................................................................. 43

3.4

Computation of areal evaporation ............................................................................................ 44


3.4.1 Computation by means of water balance equations .................................................................... 45
3.4.2 Computation of potential evaporation ........................................................................................ 45
3.4.3 Computation of the actual evaporation....................................................................................... 51

3.5

Analysis of evaporation ........................................................................................................... 53

Percolation, Infiltration ............................................................................................ 55

4.1

Definition................................................................................................................................ 55

4.2

Factors of influence................................................................................................................. 55

4.3

Properties / Characteristics...................................................................................................... 56

4.4

Relation between capillary pressure and saturation................................................................... 57

4.5

The process of infiltration........................................................................................................ 58

4.6

Measuring methods ................................................................................................................. 59

4.7

Analysis of percolation............................................................................................................ 63

Groundwater............................................................................................................. 65

5.1

Definition and occurrence........................................................................................................ 65

5.2

Variation of the groundwater level ........................................................................................... 65

5.3

Measuring groundwater........................................................................................................... 67

5.4

Groundwater dynamics............................................................................................................ 67

5.5

Groundwater recharge ............................................................................................................. 73

Runoff........................................................................................................................ 75

6.1

Definition and variability......................................................................................................... 75

6.2

Discharge................................................................................................................................ 77
6.2.1 Interrelation between water level and discharge......................................................................... 77
6.2.2 Methods of measurement........................................................................................................... 78

6.3

Measurement of stage.............................................................................................................. 82

6.4

Characteristic values / curves in water management ................................................................. 84


6.4.1
6.4.2
6.4.3
6.4.4

6.5

Preface ...................................................................................................................................... 84
Hydrographs.............................................................................................................................. 84
Frequency, cumulative frequency and duration curve................................................................. 85
Principal figures ........................................................................................................................ 88

Hydrograph analysis................................................................................................................ 89
6.5.1 Separation of base flow.............................................................................................................. 90

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 1

Hydrology

1.1 Preface
Hydrology is the science of water, its properties and different manifestations on and below the
surface of the Earth. It engages in the connections and interrelations between the
manifestations of water and its surroundings, the hydrologic cycle, the distribution of water on
and below the surface of the Earth and its changes caused by human impact (DIN 4049).
According to the respective characteristics of this cycle, hydrology can be subdivided into
three sections:
Hydrology of oceans (Oceanology),
Hydrometeorology,
Hydrology of the mainland.
Hydrology of the mainland can again be subdivided into:
Potamology =
Hydrology of flowing waters,
Limnology
=
Hydrology of lakes,
Geohydrology =
Science of the occurrence of water in the lithosphere and its
reactions with the rock and soil,
Glaciology
=
The science of the development, the form, the action, and the
propagation of ice on the earths surface.
In the field of hydrology, the science of measurement and observation is termed hydrometry.
The descriptive aspect is referred to as hydrography.
Engineering hydrology is the branch of hydrology that serves the application of scientific
knowledge in engineering practice and thus forms the basis for water resources engineering
projects (Figure 1.1).

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Figure 1.1:

Hydrology I - 2

Branches of Hydrology

1.2 The hydrologic cycle


The natural cycle of water is presented in Figure 1.2, Figure 1.3 and Figure 1.4. The cycle is a
complex process, depending on climatic, meteorologic, pedologic as well as morphologic
conditions and ground covering. Moreover, it is subject to seasonal change. The scope of
hydrology is to reveal and describe all of these interrelated processes.

Figure 1.2:

Schematic illustration of the hydrologic cycle

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Figure 1.3:

Hydrology I - 3

Illustration of the global hydrologic cycle in quantitative terms


(source: Dyck and Peschke, 1995)

Figure 1.4:

The water cycle in Germany (source: DWD Homepage 1999)

1.2.1 World water balance


The earth is the largest geographic unit and can be examined as a closed cycle without gains or
losses. Hence the global water regime can be described by categorizing the different forms of

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

water resources. Table 1.1 illustrates these categories.

Hydrology I - 4

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Hydrology I - 5

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Table 1.1:

Global water resources (source: Dyck and Peschke, 1995)

Part of the hydrosphere

Reference area
Volume
2
[1000 km ]
[1000 km3]

Percent of total
water

Percent of
freshwater

mean
retention
period

1. Oceans

361 300

1 338 000

96,5

2. Groundwater

134 800

23 400

1,7

10 530

0,76

30,1

4 000

0,289

11,42

286 a

Freshwater
Moving groundwater

2650 a

3. Soil moisture

82 000

65

0,0047

0,18

280 a

4. Frozen water

16 228

24 3651)

1,766

69,56

8 400 a

Antarctica

13 980

21 600

1,56

61,7

Greenland

1 802

2 340

0,17

6,68

Arctic islands

226

84

0,006

0,24

Mountainous areas

224

41

0,003

0,117

21 000

300

0,022

0,86

2 059

176

0,013

1 237

91

0,007

0,26

Saltwater

822

85

0,006

6. Swamps

2 683

11

0,0008

0,03

7. Rivers

148 800

2,1

0,0002

0,006

18,5 d

8. Water in organisms

510 000

1,1

0,0001

0,003

7d

9. Atmosphere

510 000

13

0,001

0,04

8,2 d

Total

510 000

1 386 032

100

2 400 a

Freshwater

148 800

35 077

2,53

100

Permafrost
5. Lakes
Freshwater

1)

1600 a

10 a

Not included is the subsurface waterstorage in the Antarctic, which amounts to approximately 2 Mio. km .
3

This includes 1 Mio. km of freshwater.

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 6

The atmospheric part of the hydrologic cycle provides all the water for mainland runoff.
However, if all the atmospheric water vapor condensed and precipitated instantly, a layer of
only 25 mm thickness would cover the earth. Comparing this with 1130 mm, the mean annual
precipitation on the earths surface, provides a mean detention period of 8 days for each water
particle in the atmosphere (365 days x 25 mm/1130 mm = 8.1 days). The following comparison
helps illustrate the quantity of water vapor in the atmosphere. Lake Constance contains 50 km3
of water. Consequently, the quantity of water in the atmosphere equals 260 times the volume
in Lake Constance (13,000 km / 50 km).

1.3 Water regime


The water regime, or water balance, describes the hydrologic cycle in quantitative terms.
Geophysical research provided the definition of the hydrologic cycle as well as an estimated
quantitative determination. Since then, water resources research has refined water regime
calculations, enabling its application for planning purposes.

1.3.1 The fundamental equation of water balance


The basic equation of natural drainage basins, often referred to as the continuity equation, is:
h P = h Q + h E + h S

hP
[mm]
hQ
[mm]
hE
[mm]
hS
[mm]
(see also Figure 1.5)

(1.1)

height of precipitation
discharge height
evaporation height
change in storage

Usually magnitudes related to the hydrologic cycle are expressed in mm per unit time. Thereby
one millimeter is equivalent to one liter of water per square meter. The numerical values refer
to the horizontal projection of the respective area.

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Figure 1.5:

Hydrology I - 7

Quantities of the water regime in a natural drainage basin

In water regime study it is more important to determine the respective components of the
water regime for an area rather than a point. The decisive area for water regime related issues
ranges from a few square kilometers up to the size of the Federal Republic of Germany. It may
be of interest to determine the water regime of a river catchment, a political unity (states,
counties), a geographical unity (type of countryside) or an economical unity.
Precipitation
The height of precipitation hP provides water in a drainage basin. It can be subdivided into
rain- and snowfall, dew and rime. Generally, only the first two items add significantly to the
water regime. In the water balance equation they are used as one combined term.
Outflow
The discharge height hQ of a natural river basin can be determined by:
h Q = h Q, s + h Q, u + h Q, t

hQ
hQ,s
hQ,u
hQ,t

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(1.2)

discharge height
discharge height (surface)
discharge height (underground)
water transfer from, or into, adjacent catchments

In the expression discussed above, it is necessary to subtract inflow from neighboring basins

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 8

from observations at the outflow gage of the basin and to determine groundwater outflow
hQ,t beside the gage.
Evaporation
The evaporation height hE derives from
h E = h E, i + h E, t + h E , s + h E, w

hE
hE,i
hE,t
hE,s
hE,w

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(1.3)

evaporation height
evaporation from plant surfaces (interception)
evaporation from plants (transpiration)
evaporation from bare soil
evaporation from an open-water surface

In hydrologic practice the above terms are determined in combination.


Storage
The storage depth hS in a basin can only be estimated. It is comprised of
h S = h S, s + h S , m + h S, g + h S , i

hS
hS,s
hS,m
hS,g
hS,i

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(1.4)

storage depth
surface water storage
soil moisture storage above groundwater level
groundwater storage
snow or ice storage

For specific purposes, e. g. if a dam is located in the watershed, it may be worthwhile to make
use of the equation discussed above. Otherwise, the components may be used in combination.
In contrast to the other terms of the water regime (apart from in- or outflow hQ,t from
neighboring areas) hS may have positive or negative values. Over a long period, however,
positive and negative values tend to balance and the change in storage volume may be
disregarded. Considering hS = 0, the water balance equation simplifies to

hP = hQ + hE
hP
hQ
hE

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(1.5)
height of precipitation
discharge height
evaporation height

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 9

1.3.2 Variations of the water regime components


Each component of the hydrologic cycle is subject to significant variation. They vary in spatial
and temporal regard. Variation in time may occur on a year-to-year, month-to-month, day-today and even hour-to-hour basis. Variations of the single components of the hydrologic cycle
in Germany (precipitation, evaporation, outflow, change of storage volume) are considerably
nonuniform in a temporal as well as an areal regard.
Precipitation shows the most significant variation in space and time. The shorter the observed
period of time the more precipitation varies. Precipitation variations in Germany range from
more than 2500 mm/year at the periphery of the Alps in southern Germany to 500 mm/year in
the northern parts of the Rhine trench (Figure 1.6).

Figure 1.6:

Mean annual precipitation in Germany (source: Infoatlas BRD, 1985)

In general, mountainous regions receive comparably large amounts of precipitation. Spatial


variation of precipitation is mainly due to the relief and continental impact toward the East.
The outflow rate in Germany varies within the same limits as precipitation. Magnitudes from
50 mm/year up to 2000 mm/year may occur. High runoff rates are typical for the periphery of
the Alps and mountainous regions throughout Germany. Hence most of the dams serving
water supply are located in mountainous regions. On the contrary, low runoff rates may be
found in the northern part of the Rhine trench and in the lower Rhine area. Evaporation ranges
from 400 mm/year to 500 mm/year. The highest rates may be found at the north rim of the
Alps and at the west rim of the Black Forest.
The change of storage volume derives not only from precipitation but also from the spatial

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Hydrology I - 10

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

distribution of soil conditions.


The spatial and temporal change of the water regime in snow blankets is dependent on
precipitation, radiation, air temperature, wind and geographic location. Table 1.2 displays the
spatial and temporal variation of each water regime component.
Table 1.2:

Variations of water regime components

Water regime

Spatial

component

variation

Temporal variation

Annual
cycle

Daily
cycle

Hour

Day

Month

Year

Precipitation

high

low

none

high

high

high

intermediate

Evaporation

less
distinct

high

high

low

intermediate

high

low

Runoff

high

intermediate

none

significan
t variation
likely

high

high

intermediate

Change of
storage volume

high

low

low

high

high

intermediate

low

Change of
storage volume
in snow
blankets

high

high

low

low

intermediate

high

high

1.3.3 Climatic zones


The climatic zones of the earth are defined by the proportion of the individual water regime
components (Figure 1.7).
humid climate
precipitation exceeds evaporation throughout the year (Central
Europe, Japan, Eastern U. S.),
semi-humid climate annual mean precipitation exceeds evaporation, however periods
of hP > hE occur (Southern Europe, South Africa),
semi-arid climate
annual mean evaporation exceeds precipitation, however periods
of hE > hP occur (Middle and South India, Southwestern U. S.),

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

arid climate
nival climate
subnival climate
seminival climate

Figure 1.7:

Hydrology I - 11

evaporation exceeds precipitation throughout the year: hE > hP


(desert areas of the subtropics, continental Asia),
temperature is even in summer not sufficient to completely melt
away snow and ice (polar zones, alpine glacier zones).
precipitation may fall as snow (Middle Europe)
precipitation mainly falls as snow (Alaska, Sibiria)

The climatic zones of the earth (source: Klassifikation von Kppen und
Geiger, 1930/39)

1.4 Hydrologic cycle of a drainage basin


The natural reference area for hydrologic and water management study, especially for the
assessment of the hydrologic cycle is the catchment or drainage basin of a river. The
borderline between two drainage basins that separates the flow of water into different
directions is termed watershed, however sometimes the entity of the drainage basin is referred
to as watershed.
Figure 1.8 presents a survey over the regime of a drainage basin with special emphasis on the
major hydrologic processes involved in the transition from precipitation to outflow.

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Figure 1.8:

Hydrology I - 12

Schematic presentation of the water regime of a drainage basin with special


emphasis on the major hydrologic processes involved in the transition from
precipitation to outflow

Figure 1.9 shows the river network of Middle Europe with the principal drainage basins Elbe,
Danube, Rhine, Weser, Rhone and direct tributaries to the North- and Baltic sea.

Figure 1.9:

The river network of Middle Europe (source: DFG, 1979)

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 13

1.4.1 Construction of a drainage basin


The most common area that is referenced during a hydrologic study is a drainage basin. These
basins may refer to an entire river or to an area located above a particular cross-section of the
river.
The size of the drainage basin is the horizontal projection of the area assigned to the discharge
of a particular river cross-section. It is bordered by the actual watersheds and may therefore
differ from the size of the surface or subsurface drainage basin AC,s or AC,u(Figure 1.10).

Figure 1.10: Drainage basin, surface and subsurface watersheds


In engineering practice, the drainage basin may be determined from the ridge and contour lines
of a topographic map as long as the geologic situation does not necessitate more sophisticated
investigations.

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Hydrology I - 14

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Precipitation

2.1 Meteorology
2.1.1 Formation of precipitation
In the atmosphere, water is present as vapor. The volume of water that can be dissolved in the
atmosphere is limited, however this volume increases with temperature (Table 2.1). The vapor
pressure pV,s at the point of saturation (saturation vapor pressure) provides the maximum
possible water content, whereas the actual vapor pressure pV provides the present content of
water.
The saturation vapor pressure pV,s can be appoximated by:

p V, s

17,27 t L

237,3+ t L
= 611 e

pV,s
tL

[Pa]
[C]

(2.1)

saturation vapor pressure


air temperature

The relative air humidity is defined as the ratio of actual and saturation vapor pressure for the
given air temperature.

u=

pV
p V,s

u
pV
pV,s

(2.2)
[-]
[Pa]
[Pa]

relative humidity
vapor pressure
saturation vapor pressure

For any given water content the air temperature corresponding to the saturation vapor pressure
is termed the dew point. If air cools below the dew point, the excess water vapor eventually
condenses to clouds and may, after complex transformations, occur as precipitation.
Table 2.1:

Water storage capacity of air


Air temperature [C]
3

Saturation vapor content [g/m ]


Saturation vapor pressure PV,s [Pa] 1Pa = 1 N/m

-20

-10

+10

+20

+30

1.1
124

2.4
285

4.8
611

9.4
1228

17.2
2339

30.3
4244

For the development of precipitation the following must occur:

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 15

sufficient moisture content of the air,


cooling of the air below dew point and
existence of condensation or freezing nuclei to enable condensation.

Water vapor condenses to cloud droplets with a radius of approximately 10-3 mm. The
transition from cloud droplets to rain drops with a magnitude of about 1 mm in radius arises
from two different physical principles:
Coalescence: Cloud particles flow together predominantly on account of collision. This
metamorphosis takes place only above freezing temperature and mainly over the sea.
Layered clouds provide drizzling rain, cumuliform clouds provide large-drop showers
of rain.
Bergeron-Findeisen-Process: Typical feature of this process is the simultaneous
coagulation and accretion of water vapor on ice particles. This process occurs below
freezing temperature and predominantly over the mainland. Layered clouds provide
snow flakes that eventually turn into drizzling rain, presuming that the air temperature
rises. Snow pellets arise from cumuliform clouds and ultimately turn into large-drop
showers of rain.
Figure 2.1 displays schematically the formation of precipitation according to the processes
discussed above.

Figure 2.1:

Formation of precipitation (source: Dyck and Peschke, 1980)

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 16

2.1.2 Types of precipitation


The cooling of air masses necessary for condensation results from air rising. Since this can be
accomplished three different ways, precipitation can be subdivided into the following three
types:
convective rainfalls occur if warm air rises into a cool environment of greater density.
During this process the air cools and water vapor condenses. The warm air is a result
of a heated surface of the earth. Convective rainfalls are of high intensity and are
referred to as heavy rain or rainstorm. Usually they are of short duration and limited
spatial extension. A characteristic attribute of this type of rainfall is extreme spatial
variability.
orographic precipitation derives from the forced rise of humid air masses along
mountain ranges. Again, the rise of air results in cooling and condensation. This type of
rainfall, termed deceleration precipitation is of variable duration and intensity. Due to
this orographic effect, the mean height of precipitation in mountainous regions is above
average.
cyclonic precipitation is usually linked to front systems. Warm air slips on top of
cold air (warm front) or it is pushed up by approaching cold air (cold front). A cold
front provides a higher velocity of rise and therefore rainfall of higher intensity.
Compared to convective rainfalls, the mean spatial extension and duration is
significantly higher (continuous precipitation). Cyclonic rainfall accounts for the largest
percentage of the total annual precipitation in temperate latitudes.
Rainfall mainly occurs as a combination of the main types discussed above.

2.1.3 Forms of precipitation


Precipitation is defined as "Water in liquid or solid phase precipitated from the atmosphere"
(DlN 4049). It can be subdivided into falling, deposited, retained and whirled up
precipitation (Table 2.2). Falling precipitation may again be subdivided into rainfall, snowfall
and several types of snow-pellets and hail. Precipitation is termed deposited if water vapor
precipitates as dew or rime ice on the surface of the earth or on objects should their respective
temperature fall below dew point or the point of white frost. Wettening fog and deposits of
freezing fog (rime ice and white frost) are referred to as retained precipitation. As long as the
surface temperature of the earth does not rise beyond melting point, falling and solid forms of
deposited precipitation may be preserved as snow, white frost etc. Deposited precipitation
exposed to wind can result in whirled up precipitation. This process is termed a snow flurry or
snowstorm.

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Table 2.2:

Hydrology I - 17

Types and forms of precipitation

Name

Explanation

Falling precipitation

Water in liquid or solid phase condensed within the atmosphere.


Falling precipitation reaches the ground mainly because of
gravity.

Deposited precipitation

Accretion or condensation of water on objects.

Retained precipitation

Water in liquid or solid form condensed within the atmosphere.


Transport of water to the surface of objects derives from air
flow.

Dew

Condensed liquid on objects on the earths surface.

Rime

Deposited needle- or leave-shaped ice-crystals. Note:


Continuous or extremely fast accretion leads to predominantly
needle-shaped rime-frost.

Fog precipitation

Liquid precipitation resulting from intercepted fog.

Rime frost

Precipitation that arises from intercepted supercooled fog in


solid phase. Note: Rime frost is gray-white in color and
accumulates in the direction of wind.

Rainfall

Drops of liquid water with diameters greater than 0.5 mm.


Note: Rain denominates the act of rainfall as well as the falling
matter.

Snow

Precipitation falling as snowflakes or snow crystals including all


products of metamorphosis.

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Hydrology I - 18

2.2 Temporal and spatial variability of precipitation


The global distribution of precipitation is strongly related to latitude. Accordingly, the earth
can be subdivided into four zones (Figure 2.2):
the equatorial zone (tropic belt) where the worlds maximum amounts of rainfall occur,
next to the tropics, areas of low precipitation (horse latitudes and trade wind area),
further towards the poles the temperate and higher latitudes featuring higher amounts
of precipitation,
finally the polar areas that feature only very little precipitation.

Figure 2.2:

Global sum of precipitation distribution in January 1998(source: NASDA


homepage, 1999)

In addition, the global rainfall distribution is strongly influenced by the proximity to oceans,
orographic effects and other factors. The long-time mean annual height of precipitation ranges
from 6000 mm (selected tropical areas) down to 20 mm (subtropical arid regions). For
Germany, maps illustrating the long-time mean annual rainfall distribution can be taken from
the "Hydrologischer Atlas".
It may also be of interest to compare the highest values of precipitation ever observed on earth.
Figure 2.3 displays the of precipitation for selected rainfall gaging stations related to its
respective duration. The limiting lines obtained from the diagram may be used to assess the
plausibility of observed extreme precipitation values.

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Figure 2.3:

Hydrology I - 19

Global extreme values of precipitation (source: Dyck, 1995)

Most regions can be characterized by examining one factor, the seasonal distribution of
precipitation. Several main types of rainfall regimes can be distinguished:
the tropical type containing two wet seasons (peaks in April and November) along the
equator except trade wind and monsoon areas featuring only one wet season,
the subtropical type featuring winter rain,
the temperate zone type characterized by rainfall throughout the year according to
continentality and elevation.
Even in temperate zones a precipitation regime throughout the year can be determined.
Although it is by far not as distinct as the outflow regime (see lecture "Statistics"), months high
or low in precipitation can easily be distinguished.
Differences during a single rainfall event can be noted. Temporal and spatial distributions may
vary according to the type of precipitation which occurs. For example, convective rainfall
(heavy rainfall) produces the highest temporal and spatial variability in a single rainfall event.
Figure 2.4 displays a rainfall event in the course of a thunderstorm over Herrenberg (Stuttgart
vicinity). It lasted 1.75 hours and was recorded by five rain gages. Although the gages were
located only a few kilometers apart a difference of precipitation totals up to 50 mm can be
observed. Figure 2.5 shows the rainfall distribution of a two-day rainfall event. Here, too, the
areal variability of rainfall totals with values between 20 and 70mm is high, despite the small
catchment size (AC = 75 km2).

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Figure 2.4:

Rainfall distribution of a heavy rainfall event, duration 1.75 hours

Figure 2.5:

Areal distribution of a two-day rainfall in the Goldersbach catchment

2.3 Parameters of precipitation


Gaging stations can record the following information during a precipitation event:
Total precipitation,
water equivalent,

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precipitation duration and


precipitation intensity.
Expresses the water yield obtained from atmospheric
Height of precipitation hP:
precipitation over a period of time at the gage site as a height
of precipitation in mm above a horizontal plane. It is
presumed no losses due to percolation, runoff or evaporation
occur.
The water equivalent describes the total amount of water
Height of precipitation as
(solid, liquid or gaseous) bound in the blanket of snow. It is
water equivalent hP,w:
expressed as a height of precipitation in mm above a
horizontal plane. The ratio between the packing of the snow
and the water equivalent ranges from

hS,i / hP,w = 15/1 to 10/1


(for fresh snowpack)

up to

hS,i / hP,w = 5/1 to 2/1 (for wet, compact snow).


Duration of precipitation TP: Period of time in min, h, d during which precipitation fell.
iP = hP / TP, ratio between precipitation total and
Precipitation intensity iP:
precipitation duration.

2.4 Measuring precipitation


2.4.1 Measuring point precipitation
A variety of gaging devices to measure point precipitation for different purposes are available.
Hyetographs may be used for short periods of time, and totalizers for long-time
measurements. Recording rain gages can produce information about duration and intensity of
precipitation (see lecture "Hydrography").
In Germany, the HELLMANN hyetograph is commonly used except in mountainous regions
of high rain- and snowfall. Its collector, set up exactly 1 m above the ground, measures
200 cm. The collecting can is able to hold between 1.2 up to 1.4 l.
The HELLMANN recording rain gages make use of the float principle. Precipitated water runs
from the collector down to a measuring tube containing a float. Connected to the float is a
spindle which again is connected to a pen recording the rainfall totals on chart paper on a
clock-driven drum. When the amount of collected water exceeds 10 mm, the measuring tube is
emptied through a pipe system into the collecting can (Figure 2.6).

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Figure 2.6:

Hydrology I - 22

Hellmann recording rain gauge

The measurements produce a precipitation mass curve (Figure 2.7). The height of precipitation
hP for any period of time TP can be determined using this curve. The rise of the mass curve
indicates the precipitation intensity iP. The sudden drops (vertical lines) on the mass curve
represent an emptying of the measuring cylinder. For computer use, the mass curves recorded
in an analog manner need to be digitized.

Figure 2.7:

Precipitation mass curve, recording rain gage, period of circulation 1 day

Several other methods to continuously measure point precipitation have been developed

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photoelectric drop-counting,
weighing-type rain gages,
seesaw type rain gages.

These three methods lend themselves well to electronic data processing and remote recording.

2.4.2 Errors in measurement of point precipitation


At first glance, point measurement of precipitation may seem easy to handle, yet it is subject to
a variety of errors. While uncertainties in the determination of snowfall are mainly due to
measuring techniques, even gaging rainfall is subject to a variety of errors and interferences
which can significantly alter the results. Beside errors that are random in nature and thus
equalize over time, other important sources of error are:
influence of the wind and
influence of evaporation.
Errors due to wind effects result from a deformation of the windfield caused by the gage itself
as well as other neighboring obstacles. Especially for small rain drops and snowfall in highwind areas, this leads to losses in measurement. Losses due to evaporation are mainly caused
by the wetting of the gage collector and evaporation from the water surface in the measuring
cylinder. Both errors lead to systematic underestimation of observed precipitation. The socalled catch-deficiency is dependent on the location of the gage and ranges from 10 - 20 % for
rainfall to roughly 25 % for snowfall.
Errors of a different type occur when point precipitation is transformed to areal
precipitation. Errors caused by this transformation may be significantly higher than those
mentioned above. They are dependent on the examined period of time, the density of the gage
network and transformation techniques (see section 2.5).
Germany has a considerably dense gage network at its disposal. It is mainly operated by the
German Weather Service (DWD) owning approximately 4500 hyetographs (~ 1 per 80 km)
and 450 recording rain gages (~ 1 per 800 km) (FRG and former GDR).

2.4.3 Remote sensing of precipitation


Remote sensing methods obtain information about precipitation indirectly. They provide a
spatial resolution of areal precipitation to an extent impossible to achieve by point
measurements due to the extreme spatial variability of rainfall. However, remote sensing
measurements must be calibrated using gage observations. Remote sensing techniques can be
classified as
radar precipitation measurement and

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satellite precipitation measurement.

Radar measurement
Radar (Radar = Radio detecting and ranging) precipitation measurement uses the fact that
microwave range radiation is reflected by water droplets (and also by snow and ice) in the
atmosphere. A signal, with a frequency of 250 300Hz and an opening angle of 1-2, is pulsed
from a sender. The sender rotates around the vertical axis (Azimuth angle) and changes its
angle with the horizontal (Elevation angle) with each revolution. The emitted electromagnetic
waves have a length of between 1-10 cm, and a frequency ranging from 3 to 30 GHz. A
fraction of these electromagnetic waves is reflected back by the precipitation to the sender,
which also acts as a receiver. From the strength of the reception signals, conclusions can be
drawn about the quantity of precipitation in the investigated volume., from the time lag about
the distance from the target to the radar station. From the actual azimuth and elevation angles
at signal emission, and the reflection time, the position of the examined precipitation volume
can be exactly determined.
With this we can obtain an all round picture as a stock of height layers, approximately every
ten minutes, with a resolution of 500mx500m and a maximum range of around 200km.
Using the so-called Radar equation, the reflectivity can be calculated through the amount of
energy scattered back from the target area.

Z=

Z
PB
r
C
k

PB r 2
Ck

(2.3)

[mm6/m3]
radar reflectivity
[W]
backscattered radiation
[m]
target distance
5
[Wm /mm6] radar coefficient
[-]
hydrometeor reflection factor

The hydro-meteorological reflection factor also depends on several further factors:


Type of precipitation (water, ice , snow)
The form and size
The orientation
K in the equation is estimated and used to calculate the reflectivity. Typical values are
approximately, k = 0.964 for rain, and k = 0.456 for dry snow.
From this so-called Z/R- (Reflectivity-Intensity-) relationship the precipitation intensity in
pulse volumes can be calculated.

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i P = a Zb
iP
a
b
Z

[mm/h]
[-]
[-]
[mm6/m3]

(2.4)
precipitation intensity
formula parameter
formula parameter
radar reflectivity

The calibration factors a and b vary from event to event, according to the type and size
spectrum of the hydrometeors, which complicates the evaluation of the radar data. Usually the
data is averaged through comparison with ground-measured precipitation data, or long
established annual average values are employed. For different weather types the following
average values for the calibration factors are recommended:
Table 2.3:

Average calibration factors for radar precipitation measurement


Weather type

Warm air currents

0.030

0.746

Cold air currents

0.020

0.704

Weak gradient conditions

0.019

0.730

Thunderstorm

0.016

0.725

Average relation

0.022

0.699

With radar precipitation measurement, attention should be paid to further possible sources of
error. It is assumed for example, that within a pulse volume
Only one type of hydrometeors are found (k uniform),
The hydrometeors are uniformly distributed within the pulse volume,
The entire pulse volume is filled with hydrometeors.
It is usually supposed, that repeated scatterings are negligible and that the radar signal is not
attenuated in any way whilst travelling to the distant target volume.
A further error source comes as a result of the radar signal being reflected by the ground
("Ground Clutter"), from topographical conditions creating a shadowing effect, and from the
curvature of the earth: A radar signal emitted at ground level, with an elevation angle 0 will

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Hydrology I - 26

reach an altitude of 780m, 100km from the emission source. Precipitation measurement near
the ground surface is therefore no longer possible after a certain distance, however especially
in the lower layers of the atmosphere, the size of a falling hydrometeor can still change
dramatically. Errors of the gross order of 20% must therefore be taken into account in the
determination of the precipitation intensity.
The German Weather Service (DWD) is currently building a radar network of some 16
stations, making a country-wide uninterrupted observation possible (Figure 2.8).
Due to their spatial, and temporal, high-resolution coverage of precipitation in real time, radar
images are especially suitable for flood forecasting. Figure 2.9, Figure 2.10 and Figure 2.11
show, in 10 minute intervals, the movement of a precipitation field over Baden-Wrttemberg,
measured by the weather radar at the Karlsruhe research centre, with a resolution of
500x500m.

Figure 2.8:

The DWD Radar Network (source: DWD Homepage, 1999)

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Figure 2.9:

Radar precipitation measurement, 25.2.1997 17:08

Figure 2.10: Radar precipitation measurement, 25.2.1997 17:18

Hydrology I - 27

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Figure 2.11: Radar precipitation measurement, 25.2.1997 17:28


Satellite measurement
Satellite photographs offer a new source of data for hydrologic modeling, a field that is
growing more and more important. According to their respective orbits geostationary and
polar-orbiting satellites can be distinguished. While polar-orbiting satellites move on elliptical
orbits at altitudes of about 900 km, geostationary satellites move through space at the same
rate as the earth rotates, so they remain above a fixed spot at altitudes of about 36,000 km and
monitor one area constantly. Temporal and spatial resolution of observations are dependent on
the altitude and orbit of the satellite. Table 2.4 displays information about the satellites most
relevant for hydrologic purposes.
Table 2.4:

Satellite- and sensor-systems

Name

NOAA-series

LANDSAT

SPOT

METEOSAT/
GOES/GMS

Type
Managed by
Altitude
Spatial resolution

polar-orbiting
NOAA/NESS
833 - 1400 km
900 m

polar-orbiting
SPOT Image
815 - 830 km
10 m (!)

geostationary
ESA/NOAA/Japan
35.800 km
5 km

Temporal resolution
Channels

12 h
2

polar-orbiting
NASA/NOAA
705 - 918 km
80 m (MSS)
30 m (TM)
16 days
7 (!)

2.5 days
3

30 min (!)
3

Precipitation characteristics may be estimated through the examination of cloud cover using
information from the visible and infrared spectral range. Precipitation total and duration may be
obtained from empirical estimations considering cloud type, -thickness, -surface temperature

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Hydrology I - 29

and -size. Several empirical methods such as "indexing", "life history" and "bispectral
techniques" may be used. Satellites of the new generation are also equipped with micro wave
sensors (ERS-1) to allow a more "direct estimation of precipitation similar to radar use.
Data obtained from satellites are extremely valuable for precipitation estimation in areas
without gage-sites (e. g. above oceans). However, as with radar data, satellite data is subject to
calibration.

2.5 Interpolation and areal precipitation


2.5.1 Preface
Precipitation normally occurs over an extended area. However, except for remote sensing
methods, it can only be measured in a few locations. It is often of interest to obtain information
about areal precipitation or spatial rainfall distribution in high resolution.
Interpolation is used to estimate precipitation at a given location as precisely as possible using
point precipitation data from neighboring gages. Areal precipitation is, according to DIN
4049, defined as "average precipitation total over a given area". It can be computed as the
arithmetic average of all point precipitation totals of an appropriate grid which themselves are
computed from gage precipitation measurements. Or simpler the arithmetic average of the
values of precipitation for all stations within the area is computed.
The following methods are commonly used to determine areal precipitation:
Arithmetic mean or station average method,
Thiessen polygon method,
Inverse distance method,
Isohyetal method,
Geostatistical methods.

2.5.2 Arithmetic mean method


This is the most simple method to compute areal precipitation for a reference area (Figure
2.12). The following equation is used:
n

hP =

hP
nS
hP,i

S
1
h P ,i
n S i =1

[mm]
[-]
[mm]

areal precipitation
number of stations
height of precipitation at station / element i.

(2.5)

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Figure 2.12: Horizontal projection of reference area with gaging stations


The results of this method are fairly accurate if the gage network is relatively dense and evenly
distributed and only long-term intervals (months, years) are of interest.

2.5.3 Thiessen polygon method


In this method, a weight is assigned to each station in proportion to its respective area defined
by a polygon (Figure 2.13). These polygons are formed as follows:
1. The stations are plotted on a map of the area drawn to a scale.
2. The adjoining stations are connected by lines.
3. Perpendicular bisectors are constructed on each of these lines.
4. These bisectors form polygons around each station. Each polygon represents the effective
area for the station within the polygon. For stations close to the boundary, the boundary
lines form the closing limit of the polygons.
5. The area of each polygon is determined and then multiplied by the rainfall value for the
station within the polygon. This is done by using a planimeter or drawing the figure to a
scale on the graph paper and counting the division squares covered by the polygon, duly
multiplied by the map scale.
6. The sum of item 5 divided by the total drainage area provides the weighted average
precipitation.

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hP =

nS

W i h P ,i

Hydrology I - 31

(2.6)

i=1

hP
Wi
hP,i

[mm]
[-]
[mm]

areal precipitation
weight of station i
height of precipitation at station / element i

Applying the weights


Wi =

Ai
n

(2.7)

Ai

i =1

Wi
[-]
weight of station i
Ai
[km2]
area associated with station / element i
in equation (2.6) provides areal precipitation.

Figure 2.13: Subdividing of a reference area into polygons

2.5.4 Inverse-distance method


This technique is based on a rectangular grid covering the reference area (Figure 2.14). For
each gridpoint the precipitation value is computed using the neighboring gage site

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observations. The quadrant method is most commonly used (Figure 2.15). A pair of coordinate
lines facing North-South and East-West is placed upon each gridpoint. The gridpoint
precipitation value is computed from the four closest gage stations, one in each quadrant.
Areal precipitation may then be determined by computing the arithmetic mean using all
gridpoint precipitation data.

Figure 2.14: Rectangular grid covering the reference area

Figure 2.15: Quadrants for gridpoint R

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Precipitation for each gridpoint may be determined by

h P, j =

Wi , j h P ,i

(2.8)

i =1

hP,j
Wi,j
hP,i

[mm]
[-]
[mm]

height of precipitation at gridpoint j


weight of gridpoint j with respect to station i
height of precipitation at station / element i

where the weights Wi,j are the relative reciprocal square distances between the gridpoint and
the respective gage station.
1 / d i2, j

W i, j =

(2.9)

2
i =1 d i , j

Wi,j
di,j

[-]
[m]

weight of gridpoint j with respect to station i


distance of station i from gridpoint j

Areal precipitation may be estimated by:


n

hP =

G
1
h P, j
n G j =1

hP
nG
hP,j

[mm]
[-]
[mm]

(2.10)

areal precipitation
number of gridpoints
height of precipitation at gridpoint j

2.5.5 Isohyetal method


Contours of equal precipitation (Isohyets) are drawn using point precipitation values of the
gage stations (Figure 2.16). Areal precipitation is estimated by
hP =

hP
hP,i
Wi

Wi h N ,i

(2.11)

i =1

[mm]
[mm]
[-]

areal precipitation
precipitation of isohyet-area i
weight of respective area i according to (2.7)

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[-]

Hydrology I - 34

number of isohyet areas

This method allows inclusion of orographic effects (effects due to the relief) during
construction of the contour lines. The contour line maps are therefore unique to each author.
In the past this method was primarily used to illustrate long-term mean precipitation
distributions. Nowadays techniques exist that provide a more objective consideration of the
previously mentioned causes of influence.

Figure 2.16: Isohyetal contour lines related to the reference area

2.5.6 Geostatistical methods


Geostatistical methods are superior to the previously mentioned methods as one can examine
properties of the actual area and properties of single rainfall events through the use of
interpolation. This is accomplished using a variogram (Figure 2.17). A variogram can describe
the spatial variability of the respective parameter. Thus, weights to determine point
precipitation can be estimated in relation to spatial variability. In comparison, the Thiessen
polygon or inverse distance method only take the gage network into account and therefore
provide the same results for different rainfall events. Moreover geostatistical methods provide
a prediction of the estimation error. This is useful for the design of gage networks.
For a more detailed description of geostatistical methods refer to lecture "Geostatistics".

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Figure 2.17: Variogram = Areal rainfall variance related to the distance of the measurement
locations

2.6 Extreme value statistics


It is important to estimate characteristics of extreme precipitation events. For example, this
knowledge is crucial during the design of water resource and water management structures for
smaller drainage basins and municipal drainage systems. Usually the recorded data series of
rainfall events are random events and are analyzed with statistical methods. A theoretical
distribution is fitted to the characteristics of the recorded data. Based on this distribution the
values and probabilities of extreme rainfall events can be assessed. The obtained design values
may be used as input for rainfall-runoff models. These models can provide extreme flows and
water levels used in the design of hydraulic engineering structures.
In extreme value statistics, the height of precipitation hP and the duration TP are especially
important to characterize events of heavy rainfall. From a population of observed precipitation
events, random samplings of extreme precipitation values are recorded. Usually, for each predefined precipitation height-duration class, one event per year (annual series) or all events
exceeding a pre-defined assigned value (partial series) are considered. Subsequently, twodimensional frequency distributions may be determined that can be used as design values
according to their respective recurrence interval T (average period of time until the variable
has a value equal or greater than a certain assigned value). This period is usually expressed in
years and called probability of annual exceedence.
So far, only statistical charts for precipitation gaging stations in service longer than 30 years

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have been published, valid only for the respective station. In 1990, however, with KOSTRA "coordinated analysis and extrapolation of rainstorm events, 1987" (DWD, 1990) a statistical
extreme-value analysis was introduced. KOSTRA is valid for the whole area of the FRG and is
based on meteorological properties. Using several methods of interpolation extreme-value
statistics for ungaged locations were computed. Hence, besides tables, plots and analytic
illustrations of extreme-value distributions for the respective gage-sites, the KOSTRA-atlas
contains maps displaying the interpolated rainstorm heights of precipitation of various
recurrence intervals (3.700 grid squares per map, each grid area measuring
A = 71,5 km2)(Figure 2.18).

Figure 2.18: Extreme precipitation with 100-year recurrence interval (source: DWD, 1990)
Figure 2.19 displays the precipitation height-duration diagram of an extreme-value analysis for
a single location.
A problem that arises in the course of extreme-value analysis is the conversion of point-related
data to an area which is crucial for water management design. Compared to point-related
data, the extreme-values of precipitation averaged over an area decrease with growing
size. To take this effect into consideration, reduction curves have been developed to allow
conversion of point- into areal values (Figure 2.20).

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Figure 2.19: Precipitation duration against height and frequency of precipitation related to a
gage station

Figure 2.20: Averaged reduction factors (source: DVWK 1991)

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Evaporation

3.1 Preface
Evaporation is defined as the slow transformation from the liquid to the gaseous phase below
the boiling point. Decisive for the amount of evaporation is the difference between the vapor
pressure of the liquid and the pressure of the atmosphere. Should they be equal, the air is
saturated which corresponds to 100 % relative humidity.
Evaporation forms a major segment of the hydrologic cycle. Combined with precipitation, it
links the earths major water bodies (ocean-atmosphere-mainland). The water balance equation
for a watershed contains evaporation as loss (hE). It is expressed as the height of an evenly
distributed layer of water evaporated from an area (areal evaporation).

3.2 Types of evaporation


Evaporation occurs during each stage of the hydrologic cycle. It even occurs during
precipitation, before the rain reaches the earth. A portion of the rain is intercepted by
vegetation (predominantly by leaves) and evaporated directly back into the atmosphere
(interception). A portion of the water infiltrated into the ground is absorbed by plant roots
and eventually discharged back into the atmosphere (transpiration). Another share of water
evaporates from soil and open water bodies (evaporation). The combined total loss from the
drainage basin is termed evapotranspiration.

3.2.1 Evaporation
Losses due to evaporation can be described by the physical interactions with open water
bodies (open water evaporation hE,w), bare soil (soil evaporation hE,s) and water intercepted
by plants (interception hE,i).
Meteorological conditions strongly influence evaporation. For example, evaporation is
dependent on:
saturation deficit of air,
air temperature,
wind speed,
soil radiation.
Each parameter influences evaporation to various degrees. However, the degree of influence
can only be determined by sophisticated tests as many atmospheric conditions influence
evaporation. This makes it difficult to isolate each component.

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INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

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Hydrology I - 39

3.2.2 Interception
Interception is one of the many processes which occur during evaporation. But due to some
specific properties of interception, it is subdivided once more.
Interception is the portion of precipitation retained at the surface of plants and
evaporated back into the atmosphere without reaching the land surface.
Interception is dependent on:
meteorological parameters (duration, height, intensity and temporal distribution of
precipitation, wind, radiation, intensity of potential evaporation), and
characteristics of vegetation (type and age of vegetation, percentage of tree top
coverage, seasonal development).
All types of vegetation contribute to interception, crops as well as trees, shrubs and
groundcovering plants in multi-storey forest. In general, coniferous forests provide higher rates
of interception than deciduous forests. Pine trees intercept approximately one-third of the
annual mean precipitation whereas crops intercept between 6 and 12%.
Interception is determined by comparing measurements below the covering of vegetation and
measurements of uncovered areas. It can be computed as follows:
h E , i = h P (h P, t + h S, st )

hE,i
hP

[mm]
[mm]

hP,t
hS,st

[mm]
[mm]

(3.1)

evaporation from plant surfaces (interception)


height of precipitation gaged on uncovered ground or above the tree
tops
through falling height of precipitation
stem flow.

3.2.3 Transpiration
Transpiration hE,t is the discharge of water vapor to the atmosphere by plants as a result
of metabolism. Transpiration is influenced by the same factors as evaporation. In addition, the
type of plant, location, season and soil type must be considered.
Estimating transpiration is difficult, thus evaporation and transpiration are grouped together
during measurements.

3.2.4 Potential and actual evaporation


To consider the respective impacts of meteorological characteristics, the potential
evaporation hE,p is introduced. It is defined as the maximum possible evaporation at a
given location or area related to atmospheric conditions under the premise of optimum

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CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

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Hydrology I - 40

water availability to use up all available energy. In comparison, the actual evaporation hE,a
is the amount of water actually evaporated. This is dependent on the present quantities
of water and energy. The majority of the time , the soil humidity is lower than the optimum.
Thus the actual evaporation is normally less than the potential evaporation. Only under the
condition of optimum water availability does hE,p equal hE,a.
The approach described above is a simplification as hE,p is not actually independent from hE,a.
For further information see section 3.4.

3.3 Measurement of evaporation


Exact measurement of point evaporation by a single evaporation gage is very difficult. Soil,
vegetation and atmosphere all regulate evaporation, and it is a system that cannot be easily
comprehended. The methodologies for estimation can be grouped according to their respective
approaches:
water balance methods,
water vapor stream methods, and
energy balance methods.

3.3.1 Water balance methods


Water balance methods determine evaporation as the remainder of the water balance equation.
All other terms must be known to use these methods.
Pan evaporation
Potential evaporation can be roughly estimated by means of an evaporation pan. Pans available
for use include floating pans for a free-water surface, pans mounted on a frame or pans
recessed in the ground.
The difference in precipitation and change of storage volume is termed pan evaporation
h E = h P h S
hE
hP
hS

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(3.2)
evaporation height
height of precipitation
change in storage

In Germany, the BINDMANN evaporation pan is widely used (Figure 3.1). It is comprised of
a pan filled with water (K) and an overflow cylinder (Z). The latter consumes surplus water via
a overflow standpipe (R) as soon as the water level rises beyond 15 mm below the pan rim.

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INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 41

Evaporation is computed as the difference in the observed levels measured by a point gage
during observation intervals.

Figure 3.1:

Float evaporation pan according to BINDMANN

Lysimeters
The lysimeter provides the most accurate estimates of evapotranspiration (Figure 3.2). It is
comprised of a block of soil overgrown by natural vegetation which is enclosed by a container.
The block has a surface area of 1 m2 and a depth of 1 - 2 meters. Percolating water is drained
and measured together with the height of precipitation. Evapotranspiration is obtained by
applying a simple balance equation if sufficient soil moisture is ensured, e. g. by sprinkling.
Given that the change in soil moisture within the lysimeter can be determined (e. g. with the
help of scales) the actual height of evaporation may be estimated by:
h E = h P h Q, u h S

hE
hP
hQ,u
hS

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(3.3)

evaporation height
height of precipitation
discharge height (underground)
change in storage

The change in storage hS can be assessed by direct measurement of the soil moisture content.
For suitable methods see section 4.
The value of evaporation obtained only relates to the specific soil type, location and

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

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Hydrology I - 42

vegetation. However, lysimeters can describe the natural process of evaporation much more
accurately than any evaporation pan. The results may then be interpolated.

Figure 3.2:

Built-in lysimeter

3.3.2 Water vapor stream method


The most direct way to estimate evaporation is to measure water vapor transfer in ground level
layers of the atmosphere.
Based on the diffusion model, the aerodynamic profile method provides evaporation hE as
the product of the water vapor exchange coefficient AV and the vertical gradient of the relative
air humidity du:
hE = AV

hE
AV
u
z

du
u
AV
dz
z

(3.4)

[mm]
evaporation height
[kg/ms] water vapor exchange coefficient
[-]
relative air humidity
[m]
geodetic height

The mass-transfer coefficient is a function of the vertical gradient of wind speed. Both wind
speed and relative humidity need to be present in highest temporal resolution and consequently
this method demands sophisticated measuring practice. Therefore, this method is hardly ever
used.

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INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 43

3.3.3 Energy balance method


Evaporation is a component of the energy balance due to energy consumption (latent heat
flow hE). The relationship between evaporation expressed as water volume hE and evaporation
expressed as energy unit hE is as follows:

hE =
hE
hE
t
W
l

h E t
1000
W l
[mm]
[W/m2]
[s]
[kg/m3]
[J/kg]

(3.5)
evaporation height
evaporation in unit energy / Energy equivalent of evaporated water
time frame
density of water = 1000 kg/m3
Remark: 1W = 1 J/s
latent heat of vaporisation for water = 2 500 000 J/kg

Water is present due to precipitation hP, and energy is present due to net radiation RN (Figure
3.3). Net radiation can be computed from the difference in incoming and reflected
radiation. The soil serves as a storage volume retaining a portion of water (hS) and energy as
ground heat flow (B) which is later released back into the atmosphere. A portion of the water
disappears as surface or subsurface discharge QO,s and QO,g respectively, another portion
evaporates (hE). The evaporating water causes a change in energy as some energy is used up as
latent heat flow (hE). The latent heat flow amounts to approximately 2/3 of the energy gained
by the net radiation RN , the soil heat flow runs up to 5 - 10 %. The rest of the energy is
converted to sensible heat flow H. This happens only if the air temperature is lower than the
temperature of the surface where evaporation takes place.

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Figure 3.3:

Hydrology I - 44

Hydrologic cycle and energy balance - a coupled system

If it is possible to determine the amount of available energy within an area, the possible
evaporation of this area can be determined. The first fundamental principle of thermodynamics
provides a means to determine this value. According to this law of energy conservation it can
be assumed that
R N - hE - H - B = 0
RN
hE
H
B

[W/m2]
[W/m2]
[W/m2]
[W/m2]

(3.6)
net radiation
evaporation in unit energy / Energy equivalent of evaporated water
sensible heat flow
ground heat flow

Under the premise that RN, H and B can be quantified, hE may be determined. It can be
assumed that net radiation and the soil heat flow may be measured. Computation of the
sensible heat flow can be obtained from an air temperature profile.

3.4 Computation of areal evaporation


The discharge of water to the atmosphere from an area is referred to as areal evaporation hE. It
consists of evaporation from open free-water surfaces and direct evaporation from soil and
vegetation (evapotranspiration). Areal evaporation is not measured directly; similar to areal
precipitation it can be obtained from various methods.
The height of areal evaporation may be estimated from

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INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 45

water regime balance equations,


physical approaches and
climate observations.

3.4.1 Computation by means of water balance equations


The actual areal evaporation hV of any given drainage basin for a period of time is indicated by
the following formula:
h E = h P h Q h S

hE
hP
hQ
hS

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(3.7)

evaporation height
areal precipitation
discharge height
change in storage

Presuming the water storage volume acquires the same numerical value at the beginning and
end of a period of time (e. g. from May - April), hS = 0, and the balance equation is reduced
to:
hE = hP hQ

hE
hP
hQ

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(3.8)
evaporation height
areal precipitation
discharge height

3.4.2 Computation of potential evaporation


A commonly used method developed by PENMAN is semi-empirical yet based on a physical
approach. It can be divided into two components, one considering radiation and a second
considering humidity and ventilation:

p pV
h E ,p = ( w S R B ) t + (1 w S ) ( 0, 27 + 0.0312 10 3 v W ) V ,s
100

hE,p
ws
RB
t

[mm]
[-]
[mm/d]
[d]

potential evapotranspiration
radiation weighting factor (Table 3.1)
radiation balance as equivalent evapotranspiration, from (3.10)
time frame

(3.9)

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
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Hydrology I - 46

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

vw
pV,s
pV

[m/s]
[Pa]
[Pa]

average daily wind speed


saturation vapor pressure, from (2.1)
vapor pressure, from (2.2)

and
R B = R N, s R N, l

RB
RN,s
RN,l

[mm/d]
[mm/d]
[mm/d]

(3.10)
radiation balance as equivalent evapotranspiration
net short wave radiation as equivalent evapotranspiration, from (3.11)
net long wave radiation as equivalent evapotranspiration, from (3.12)

with

t
R N, s = (1 a r ) 0,25 + 0,5 S
t Max

RN,s
ar

[mm/d]
[-]

tS
tMax

[h/d]
[h/d]

RE

[mm/d]

R E

(3.11)

net short wave radiation as equivalent evapotranspiration


reflection coefficient,
ar=0,25 for plant covered surfaces
ar=0,05 for open water surfaces
averaged n-day number of sunshine hours
astronomically possible sunshine duration, dependent on time of year
and geographical location (Table 3.2)
extraterrestrial radiation as equivalent evapotranspiration (Table 3.3)

and

R N, l = 1,98 10

RN,l
tL
pV
tS
tMax

[mm/d]
[C]
[Pa]
[h/d]
[h/d]

(273 + t L )

t
pV 2

0,34 0,044
0,1 + 0,9 S
t Max

100

(3.12)

net long wave radiation as equivalent evapotranspiration


Average daily air temperature
vapor pressure according to (2.2)
averaged n-day number of sunshine hours
astronomically possible sunshine duration, dependent on time of year
and geographical location (Table 3.2).

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Hydrology I - 47

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Table 3.1:

Values of the weighting factor wS, for the effect of radiation on the potential
evapotranspiration height hET,p for different temperatures and altitudes (source:
Maniak, 1988)
Height above Sea Level
Temperature in
[C]

[moSL]
0

500

1000

2000

0,43

0,44

0,46

0,49

0,46

0,48

0,49

0,52

0,49

0,51

0,52

0,55

0,52

0,54

0,55

0,58

10

0,55

0,57

0,58

0,61

12

0,58

0,60

0,61

0,64

14

0,61

0,62

0,64

0,66

16

0,64

0,65

0,66

0,69

18

0,66

0,67

0,69

0,71

20

0,68

0,70

0,71

0,73

22

0,71

0,72

0,73

0,75

24

0,73

0,74

0,75

0,77

26

0,75

0,76

0,77

0,79

28

0,77

0,78

0,79

0,81

30

0,78

0,79

0,80

0,82

32

0,80

0,81

0,82

0,84

34

0,82

0,82

0,83

0,85

36

0,83

0,84

0,85

0,86

38

0,84

0,85

0,86

0,87

40

0,85

0,86

0,87

0,88

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INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Hydrology I - 48

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Table 3.2:

Average maximum astronomically possible sunshine duration tMax in h/d taken


for the middle of each month (Source: Maniak, 1988)

N. Latitude []

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

Mai

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

S. Latitude []

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

54

8.0

9.9

11.8

14.1

16.1

17.1

16.6

14.9

12.7

10.6

8.6

7.4

52

8.3

10.0

11.8

13.9

15.7

16.7

16.3

14.6

12.7

10.7

8.8

7.8

50

8.5

10.1

11.8

13.8

15.4

16.3

15.9

14.5

12.7

10.8

9.1

8.1

48

8.8

10.2

11.8

13.6

15.2

16.0

15.6

14.3

12.6

10.9

9.3

8.3

46

9.1

10.4

11.9

13.5

14.9

15.7

15.4

14.2

12.6

10.9

9.5

8.7

44

9.3

10.5

11.9

13.4

14.7

15.4

15.2

14.0

12.6

11.0

9.7

8.9

42

9.4

10.6

11.9

13.4

14.6

15.2

14.9

13.9

12.5

11.1

9.8

9.1

40

9.6

10.7

11.9

13.3

14.4

15.0

14.7

13.7

12.5

11.2

10.0

9.3

35

10.1

11.0

11.9

13.1

14.0

14.5

14.3

13.5

12.4

11.3

10.3

9.8

30

10.4

11.1

12.0

12.9

13.6

14.0

13.9

13.2

12.4

11.5

10.6

10.2

25

10.7

11.3

12.0

12.7

13.3

13.7

13.5

13.0

12.3

11.6

10.9

10.6

20

11.0

11.5

12.0

12.6

13.1

13.3

13.2

12.8

12.3

11.7

11.2

10.9

15

11.3

11.6

12.0

12.5

12.8

13.0

12.9

12.6

12.2

11.8

11.4

11.2

10

11.6

11.8

12.0

12.3

12.6

12.7

12.6

12.4

12.1

11.8

11.6

11.5

11.8

11.9

12.0

12.2

12.3

12.4

12.3

12.3

12.1

12.0

11.9

11.8

12.1

12.1

12.1

12.1

12.1

12.1

12.1

12.1

12.1

12.1

12.1

12.1

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Hydrology I - 49

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Table 3.3:

Extraterrestrial radiation RE in mm/d, (source: Maniak, 1988)

Latitude

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

54 North
52
50
48
46
44
42
40
38
36
34
32
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
22
24
26
28
30
32
34
36
38
40
42
44
46
48
50 Sd

2.7
3.3
3.8
4.3
4.9
5.3
5.9
6.4
6.9
7.4
7.9
8.3
8.8
9.3
9.8
10.2
10.7
11.2
11.6
12.0
12.4
12.8
13.2
13.6
13.9
14.3
14.7
15.0
15.3
15.5
15.8
16.1
16.4
16.6
16.7
16.9
17.1
17.3
17.4
17.5
17.6
17.7
17.8
17.8
17.8
17.9
17.9
17.9
17.8
17.8
17.7
17.6
17.5

5.1
5.6
6.1
6.6
7.1
7.6
8.1
8.6
9.0
9.4
9.8
10.2
10.7
11.1
11.5
11.9
12.3
12.7
13.0
13.3
13.6
13.9
14.2
14.5
14.8
15.0
15.3
15.5
15.7
15.8
16.0
16.1
16.3
16.3
16.4
16.4
16.5
16.5
16.5
16.5
16.4
16.4
16.4
16.2
16.1
16.0
15.8
15.7
15.5
15.3
15.1
14.9
14.7

8.6
9.0
9.4
9.8
10.2
10.6
11.0
11.4
11.8
12.1
12.4
12.8
13.1
13.4
13.7
13.9
14.2
14.4
14.6
14.7
14.9
15.1
15.3
15.3
15.4
15.5
15.6
15.7
15.7
15.6
15.6
15.5
15.5
15.4
15.3
15.2
15.1
15.0
14.8
14.6
14.4
14.3
14.0
13.8
13.5
13.2
12.8
12.5
12.2
11.9
11.5
11.2
10.9

12.0
12.3
12.7
13.0
13.3
13.7
14.0
14.3
14.5
14.7
14.8
15.0
15.2
15.3
15.3
15.4
15.5
15.6
15.6
15.6
15.7
15.7
15.7
15.6
15.5
15.4
15.3
15.3
15.1
14.9
14.7
14.4
14.2
14.0
13.7
13.5
13.2
13.0
12.6
12.3
12.0
11.6
11.3
10.9
10.5
10.1
9.6
9.2
8.8
8.4
7.9
7.5
7.0

15.5
15.7
15.8
15.9
16.0
16.1
16.2
16.4
16.4
16.4
16.5
16.5
16.5
16.5
16.4
16.4
16.3
16.3
16.1
16.0
15.8
15.7
15.5
15.3
15.1
14.9
14.6
14.4
14.1
13.8
13.4
13.1
12.8
12.5
12.1
11.7
11.4
11.0
10.6
10.2
9.7
9.3
8.9
8.5
8.0
7.5
7.1
6.6
6.1
5.7
5.2
4.7
4.2

17.0
17.0
17.1
17.2
17.2
17.2
17.3
17.3
17.2
17.2
17.1
17.0
17.0
16.8
16.7
16.6
16.4
16.4
16.1
15.9
15.7
15.5
15.3
15.0
14.7
14.4
14.2
13.9
13.5
13.2
12.8
12.4
12.0
11.6
11.2
10.8
10.4
10.0
9.6
9.1
8.7
8.2
7.8
7.3
6.8
6.3
5.8
5.3
4.9
4.4
4.0
3.5
3.1

16.3
16.3
16.4
16.5
16.6
16.6
16.7
16.7
16.7
16.7
16.8
16.8
16.8
16.7
16.6
16.5
16.4
16.3
16.1
15.9
15.7
15.5
15.3
15.1
14.9
14.6
14.3
14.1
13.7
13.4
13.1
12.7
12.4
12.0
11.6
11.2
10.8
10.4
10.0
9.5
9.1
8.6
8.1
7.7
7.2
6.8
6.3
5.9
5.4
4.9
4.4
4.0
3.5

13.7
13.9
14.1
14.3
14.5
14.7
15.0
15.2
15.3
15.4
15.5
15.6
15.7
15.7
15.7
15.8
15.8
15.9
15.8
15.7
15.7
15.6
15.5
15.4
15.2
15.1
14.9
14.8
14.5
14.3
14.0
13.7
13.5
13.2
12.9
12.6
12.3
12.0
11.6
11.2
10.9
10.4
10.1
9.6
9.2
8.8
8.3
7.9
7.4
6.9
6.5
6.0
5.5

10.2
10.6
10.9
11.2
11.5
11.9
12.2
12.5
12.8
13.1
13.4
13.6
13.9
14.1
14.3
14.5
14.6
14.8
14.9
15.0
15.1
15.2
15.3
15.3
15.3
15.3
15.3
15.3
15.2
15.1
15.0
14.9
14.8
14.7
14.5
14.3
14.1
13.9
13.7
13.4
13.2
13.0
12.7
12.4
12.0
11.7
11.4
11.0
10.6
10.2
9.7
9.3
8.9

6.5
7.0
7.4
7.8
8.3
8.7
9.1
9.6
10.0
10.6
10.8
11.2
11.6
12.0
12.3
12.6
13.0
13.3
13.6
13.9
14.1
14.4
14.7
14.8
15.0
15.1
15.3
15.4
15.5
15.6
15.7
15.8
15.9
15.8
15.8
15.8
15.8
15.8
15.7
15.6
15.5
15.4
15.3
15.1
14.9
14.6
14.4
14.2
14.0
13.7
13.4
13.2
12.9

3.5
4.0
4.5
5.0
5.5
6.0
6.5
7.0
7.5
8.0
8.5
9.0
9.5
9.9
10.3
10.7
11.1
11.6
12.0
12.4
12.8
13.3
13.6
13.9
14.2
14.5
14.8
15.1
15.3
15.5
15.8
16.0
16.2
16.4
16.5
16.7
16.8
17.0
17.0
17.1
17.2
17.2
17.3
17.2
17.1
17.0
17.0
16.9
16.8
16.7
16.7
16.6
16.5

2.2
2.7
3.2
3.7
4.3
4.7
5.2
5.7
6.1
6.6
7.2
7.8
8.3
8.8
9.3
9.7
10.2
10.7
11.1
11.6
12.0
12.5
12.9
13.3
13.7
14.1
14.4
14.8
15.1
15.4
15.7
16.0
16.2
16.5
16.6
16.8
17.1
17.4
17.5
17.7
17.8
17.9
18.1
18.1
18.2
18.2
18.3
18.3
18.3
18.3
18.3
18.2
18.2

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Potential evaporation is easily computed using the TURC approach, based on lysimeter
measurements on wet meadows:

h ET,p = ( C1 + C 2 t S ) t A
hET,p
C1,C2
n
tS
tA

[mm]
[-]
[d]
[h/d]
[C]

n
t A + 15

(3.13)

potential evaporation
constants dependent on season and geographical location (Table 3.4)
period of time, measured in days
averaged n-day number of sunshine hours
averaged n-day air temperature

Considering that the empirical relation discussed above is only valid for wet meadows,
adjustment factors need to be introduced for other surface types to take the difference in
absorption ability into account. TURCs equation may only be applied for temperatures above
freezing level.
Table 3.4:

C1, C2 for the TURC formula at a latitude of 53o north (e.g. central Europe)
Month

C1

C2

January

1.09

0.180

February

1.40

0.259

March

1.86

0.350

April

2.36

0.429

May

2.76

0.476

June

3.00

0.489

July

2.93

0.484

August

2.58

0.448

September

2.10

0.390

October

1.57

0.294

November

1.19

0.210

December

1.02

0.158

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Evaporation from open water bodies may be computed by either energy balance methods or
the aerodynamic approaches using float evaporation pan measurements.

3.4.3 Computation of the actual evaporation


Oftentimes, the actual evaporation is assessed by reducing potential evaporation :
h E , a = h E, p

hE,a

hE,p

[mm]
[]
[mm]

(3.14)
actual evaporation
reduction factor: actual evaporation / potential evaporation
potential evaporation

The factor considers availability of water in the ground.


Potential evaporation hE,p often serves as input for models. Models that simulate the water
regime of drainage basins (including the soil water regime) will alter the potential evaporation
value according to the available soil water contents, in order to estimate the actual
evaporation.
A simple method to calculate the actual height of evaporation is the method according to
HAUDE. The advantage of this method is, that it requires measurements only once per day
(2.00 pm). It has been applied mainly in the case of artificial watering. However, the
Haudeformula is only valid for temperate, humid climate zones.

h E , a = f H p V, s p V t

hE,a
fH
pV,s
pV
t
Table 3.5:

(3.15)

[mm]
actual evaporation
[mm/(Pa d)] Haude factor to calculate actual evaporation (Table 3.5)
[Pa]
saturation vapor pressure according to (2.1)
[Pa]
vapor pressure according to (2.2)
[d]
time frame
Haude factors fH for actual evaporation height in unit mm/(Pad)
April/May

June

July

August

September

Oct-March

average values

0.0029

0.0028

0.0026

0.0029

0.0023

0.0022

winter crops

0.0041

0.0043

0.0037

summer crops

0.0033

0.0057

0.0039

As previously mentioned, the definition of (constant) potential evaporation has only theoretical

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Hydrology I - 52

meaning as potential evaporation is related to the actual evaporation. The latter affects the
saturation deficit as well as the amount of available energy over the respective surface.
Therefore, the potential evaporation decreases with increasing actual evaporation until hE
equals hE,p. BOUCHET showed that:
h E , p + h E = 2h E , w = const

hE,p
hE
hE,w

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(3.16)

potential evaporation
evaporation height
evaporation from an open water surface.

Based on this, MORTON derived a new approach to determine actual evaporation. Under the
premise that radiation remains constant, this new concept termed complementary relation is
illustrated below (Figure 3.4).

Figure 3.4:

Complementary relation providing actual evaporation according to MORTON;


schematic illustration

Given that no water for evaporation is available (arid conditions), hE,a = 0 and as a result
hE,p = 2hE,w. The increase in hE,a is proportional to the increase in water supply of the soil-plant
system and proportional to the decrease of hE,p. Ultimately, under the assumption of infinite
water availability, hE,a equals hE,p equals hE,w. The potential evaporation now amounts to exactly
50 % of the value under arid conditions.
HE,p and hE,w may be derived from climate observations (see above). The actual evaporation hE,a

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Hydrology I - 53

can be computed by applying equation (3.16) without considering the actual amount of
humidity in the soil-vegetation system.

3.5 Analysis of evaporation


Annual mean evaporation
as follows:
forest
meadows
arable land

for central Europe can be divided into its components hE,s : hE,i : hE,t
10 : 30 : 60 %
25 : 25 : 50 %
45 : 15 : 40 %.

Evaporation from an open water surface hE,w amounts to 800 - l000 mm/a, distributed into
74 % (summer half-year) and 26 % (winter half-year), respectively.
The mean annual evaporation height hE in Germany is 400 - 500 mm/a. It is distributed over
the year as follows:
winter half-year
17 %
summer half-year
83 %
November
1%
May
15 %
December
1%
June
21 %
January
1%
July
21 %
February
2%
August
15 %
March
4%
September
7%
April
8%
October
4%
Evaporation from snow blankets measuring roughly 0.5 mm/d may be neglected for water
management purposes.
The relation between potential areal evapotranspiration and evaporation from free-water
bodies due to location, soil type and vegetation in Central Europe on a daily basis is provided
by
h ET,p
h E,w

= 0.7 1.0

(3.17)

hET,p
[mm]
potential evaporation
hE,w
[mm]
evaporation from an open water surface
It may be as high as 1.5 in extreme cases(small areas and large crops).
Table 3.6 displays the mean annual actual and potential heights of evaporation obtained from
lysimeter measurements. These measurements are valid for Germany. Table 3.7 provides
hET,a/hP ratios for different surface types.

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Table 3.6:

Mean annual and potential heights of evaporation valid for Germany

Actual areal evaporation hE,a


Potential evaporation hE,p
-values

Table 3.7:

Winter half-year

Summer half-year

Year

50-100
110-160
60
mm

350-400
440-540
90-140
mm

400-500
550-700
150-200
mm

0.3-0.6
0.6-0.9
0.3
mm/d

1.9-2.2
2.5-3.0
0.6-0.8
mm/d

Annual evaporation ratios for different surface types (approximate values)

Surface type
Bare soil
Corn fields
Root crops
Meadows
Forests
Free-water bodies
Humid soil

hET,a/hP in [%]
30
40
45
65
70
75
95

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Hydrology I - 55

Percolation, Infiltration

4.1 Definition
The infiltration of water into the ground via its surface is referred to as percolation,
infiltration or seepage. This process is regulated by the availability of water and the transport
properties of the soil profile. The process takes part mainly in the so-called aeration zone.
Infiltration divides precipitation into surface and subsurface water regime components and is
therefore of major importance. Due to the fact that all other storage and drainage processes are
subsequent to infiltration, correct modeling of percolation is an important prerequisite for all
procedures that arise from it. Infiltration reduces and retains the outflow of a watershed,
provides soil humidity necessary for plant growth and recharges the groundwater. The
infiltration rate iI is expressed in depth of water [mm] per unit time.
Figure 4.1 illustrates the distribution of precipitation with special emphasis on infiltration.

Figure 4.1:

Infiltration - a subprocess of the hydrologic cycle

4.2 Factors of influence


The previous definition implies that percolation is related to the properties of precipitation, soil
and the surrounding vegetation. The amount of water available for infiltration is dependent on
the parameters of precipitation, snow break and plant growth. The transport properties are

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Hydrology I - 56

influenced by the physical characteristics of the soil. The factors of influence are described in
Figure 4.2.

Figure 4.2:

Factors influencing infiltration

4.3 Properties / Characteristics


In hydrologic study, the most important property of soil is its capability to store and
conduct water. Based on different effective forces such as gravitation, adsorption and
capillary forces, water can be subdivided as follows:
gravitational water advancing due to gravity in large pores leading to groundwater
recharge,
capillary water, retained in medium-size and small pores,
adsorptive water bound to the surface of soil particles as a coating of water.
This classification is idealized as each effective force cannot be considered isolated from each
other. In hydrologic practice the characteristic water content is derived from the soil
characteristics. The most frequently used soil characteristics are as follows:
The pore volume or porosity n is defined as the ratio of the volume of voids to the total
volume in unit %. Porosity is not the only factor that influences water extraction and
transmission, other factors include the size of voids and extent of interconnection.
The water content is the relation of the amount of water actually stored in the soil pores
that may be extracted by drying the soil sample at 105 Celsius and the sample volume.
The degree of saturation is defined as the ratio of water content to porosity in volumetric

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percentages Vol. - % .
The field capacity or specific retention FC is the volume of water retained against the force
of gravity in a soil sample without influence of evaporation. Considering that the magnitudes
estimated in this manner cannot be compared because of different locations, another term, the
so-called moisture equivalent ME is introduced. It is defined as the volume of suspended
water bound between 6 and 30 kPa under laboratory conditions. This corresponds to the
distinction between suspended and percolating water.
The point of permanent wilting PWP is defined as the minimum water content to sustain
plant life. Should the water content fall below this limit irreversible damage because of wilting
occurs. As too many responsible factors need to be taken into consideration, the equivalent
point of wilting eWP is introduced. It indicates the water content corresponding to a suction
head of 1,5 MPa.
The usable field capacity uFC is defined as the content of suspended water between field
capacity FC and point of permanent wilting PWP. The usable moisture equivalent uME is
defined as the water content between ME and eWP.
Table 4.1 presents a compilation of representative values related to water storage of different
soils.
In addition to the characteristic values discussed above describing the specific storage capacity
of soil, a new term is introduced. The hydraulic conductivity or permeability kf, in unit mm
water per unit time describes the ability of a soil sample to conduct water. It can be viewed as
the upper limit of infiltration rate iI. For more information relating to permeability, refer to
Chapter 5.
Table 4.1:
Soil type

Representative values for water storage


Equivalent grain diameter dE
[mm]

Porosity n
[Vol.-%]

ME
[Vol.-%]

eWP
[Vol.-%]

0.063-2.0
--*

28-35
35-50

8-15
20-35

1-7
12-19

Silt

0.002-0.063

40-52

28-35

18-22

Clay

< 0.002

50-65

40-55

25-35

Sand
Loam

Loam consists of sand, silt and clay

4.4 Relation between capillary pressure and saturation


The capillary pressure or suction head is a measure of the ability of soil to retain water. It is
dependent on water content. The relation between capillary pressure or suction head and
volumetric moisture content (water retention curve) is obtained by plotting the capillary
pressure against the volumetric moisture content. Figure 4.3 displays characteristic curves for
various soil types and the previously discussed characteristic values of water-holding capacity.

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Figure 4.3:

Hydrology I - 58

Water retention curves for different soil types (source: Dyck and Peschke,
1995)

It can be stated that fine-grain soils (such as clay) possess a significantly higher water-holding
capacity than coarse-grain soils (such as sand), but on the other hand higher capillary pressures
are needed to activate the water. This comes from the significantly larger water-soil surface
area of fine-grain soils which results in higher adsorbtive forces and also smaller pore
diameters. Small pores, however require much higher pressures to release the stored water.
Insofar, the water retention curve can also be regarded as pore size distribution. It provides the
numeric value of the suction head necessary to drain pores of different diameter.

4.5 The process of infiltration


The process of infiltration can be conceptualized as follows: Water from precipitation or
submersion infiltrates as a distinct and closed water front. A portion of the water is retained
which leads to a reduced capillary pressure and hence a lower infiltration intensity. In the
course of this process, three distinct zones according to Figure 4.4 occur.

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Figure 4.4:

Hydrology I - 59

The process of infiltration for soil with pure microstructure (source: Scheffer
1998)

The zone of saturation is a thin layer of saturated soil due to precipitation or submersion. As
this "wetting front" advances, the adjacent soil storage volume is transformed into the
transport zone. The progress of the water front in the vertical direction can mainly be
attributed to the suction head at the water front and the potential of gravity in the soil body.
The process discussed above is only valid for "ideal" soil bodies with uniform microstructure.
In fact, the process of infiltration is strongly influenced by the macro pore system. Macro
pores can be described as long, predominantly vertically oriented voids that may reach the
groundwater table. Macro pores are formed by roots of living or dead vegetation, subsurface
animal life (worms, mice etc.) as well as mechanical and thermal effects that may result in
shrinkage cracks.
Hydrology Part III introduces hydrological models that provide numerical approaches to
describe the infiltration process and the soil moisture regime.

4.6 Measuring methods


Infiltration and percolation of soil bodies may be determined from ponderable lysimeters (see
section 3.3) or double-ring infiltrometers (Figure 4.5).

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Figure 4.5:

Hydrology I - 60

Double-ring infiltrometer

Infiltration rate iI is determined by the velocity of the water level decline within the internal
ring. Water in the outer ring wets the area of observation and reduces errors in measurements
caused by lateral percolation.
Measuring soil humidity by means of "Time-Domain-Reflectometry" (TDR) makes use of
the fact that the combined soil-water-air dielectricity is governed by the dielectricity of water.
Measuring the transmission velocity of a sudden change of electric tension between two
parallel conductor rods recessed in the ground provides the dielectric constant. Based on this,
the volumetric moisture content in the soil body between the conductors may be estimated
(Figure 4.6).

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Figure 4.6:

Hydrology I - 61

Measuring soil moisture by means of the TDR-principle

Another typical device is the neutron probe (Figure 4.7). It provides a direct measurement of
the soil moisture content. The neutron probe operates as follows: A transmitter in the probe
emits neutrons. When the energy-laden neutrons encounter the hydrogen atom nuclei of soil
water they are slowed down and scattered. A fraction of the slower neutrons is detected by a
receiver and converted into electric pulses. The quantity of pulses is proportional to the
concentration of hydrogen atoms and consequently for the soil moisture content.
The soil moisture content may also be estimated using Tensiometers (Figure 4.8). In this
regard, soil moisture is calculated from the capillary potential measured at various depths.

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Figure 4.7:

Hydrology I - 62

Structure of a neutron probe

Another possibility to measure soil water content is the tensiometer (Figure 4.8). It consists of
a porous ceramic cell connected to a manometer. The cell and the free space to the manometer
are water-filled. The manometer is adjusted such that it shows 0 when the cell is located
exactly at the groundwater table. The drier the surrounding soil, the more water is withdrawn
from the tensiometer, the higher the negative pressure at the manometer.

Figure 4.8:

Tensiometer

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4.7 Analysis of percolation


The physical parameters influencing percolation have a high spatial variability. For example,
conductivity coefficients may vary up to 400 % in the mesoscale (Table 4.2). Therefore, smallscale infiltration intensities may show extreme variability. "Correlation lengths" (see lecture
"Geostatistics") for observed infiltration ratios can only be determined between 10 and
50 meters.
Table 4.2:

Classifications of scales in hydrology

MACRO

large
small

MICRO

MICRO

107

107

Continents

106

106

104

104

River Basins,
Catchments

103

100
1

Topic

Choric

etc.

Regional

105

MESO

MESO

Area
[km2]

Global

Distance
[m]

Hydrological Geographical

MACRO

Atmospheric

102

10-1

Hydrotop,
Agricultural
Plot

10
1

1 m2

etc.

10-1

1 cm2

10-2
Considering natural drainage basins, the total percolation changes with changing seasons and
soil types. The mean values for percolation displayed in Table 4.3 are compared to
precipitation.
Table 4.3:

Sand
Humos soil
Loess

Percolation in relation to precipitation for different soil types


Winter
[%]

Summer
[%]

Annual mean

96
71
56

55
24
11

72
46
30

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Table 4.4 contains some infiltration ratios obtained from double-ring infiltrometer
measurements.
Table 4.4:

Observed infiltration ratios

Infiltration class
1 very low
2 low
3 low / medium
4 medium
5 medium / high
6 high
7 very high

Infiltration intensity is
in unit mm/h
<1
1-5
5 - 20
20 - 63
63 - 127
127 - 254
> 254

Soil type
loam, clay
silt loam
sandy loam
loamy sand
fine-grained sand
coarse-grained sand
coarse-grained sand, gravel

Artificial surface water bodies may feature infiltration ratios between 20 mm/d
(Mittellandkanal) and 35 mm/d (Rhine-Herne-Canal), however 50 - 70 mm/d (Niddabarrage in
the Vogelsberg area, clefted basalt) are also possible.

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Hydrology I - 65

Groundwater

5.1 Definition and occurrence


Water below the surface of the earth that completely fills the voids of the soil body and moves
due to gravity and pressure forces, unhindered by adsorption and capillary forces, is referred to
as groundwater. Groundwater constitutes a portion of gravitational water. The portion moves
predominantly lateral in a water-bearing stratum or aquifer due to confining layers.
The upper limit, termed the groundwater table, separates the saturation zone from the
unsaturated zone overlaying it. If the upper surface of the groundwater body is exposed to
atmospheric pressure, a "water table" exists and the stratum is termed unconfined aquifer.
The piezometric surface only equals the level of the water table if no recognizable vertical
movement occurs. Confined aquifers, also known as pressure or artesian aquifers, occur
where groundwater is under greater-than-atmospheric pressure due to an overlaying confined
layer of a relatively impermeable medium. The standpipe-level provides the depth of the
pressurized groundwater level (Figure 5.1). Layered loose-packed rock stratums often
contain several groundwater levels.

Figure 5.1:

Unconfined and confined aquifers

5.2 Variation of the groundwater level


Variations of the groundwater table arise from in- or outflow, capillary rise, groundwater

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recharge, evaporation and artificial recharge or extraction. The capillary rise can be
approximated by:

hC =
hC
dP

30
dP
[mm]
[mm]

(5.1)
capillary rise
capillary diameter

In the vicinity of water bodies, interrelations between groundwater and surface water bodies
may occur. Aquifers close to the surface experience short-term variations caused by changes in
the weather. Furthermore, the characteristics of variation are dependent on the properties of
the aquifer itself. Especially porosity, pore distribution, depth, thickness, slope of the layer of
the aquifer and the overlaying aeration zone are of recognizable influence. The groundwater
level features an annual cycle dependent on climate, season, vegetation and the
responsible factors mentioned above. Replenishment takes place mainly in winter while
vegetation and evaporation in summer lead to extraction.
The groundwater hydrograph is obtained from the temporal succession of groundwater levels.
From (Figure 5.2), we see that the annual cycle of groundwater levels in deep aquifers is less
pronounced than in shallow aquifers, also, due to the prolonged percolation time, the cycle in
deep aquifers is shifted in time.

Figure 5.2:

Examples of groundwater hydrographs

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Hydrology I - 67

5.3 Measuring groundwater


Oftentimes, the groundwater level serves as a measure for the groundwater storage volume
and its temporal variation. The groundwater level is observed in groundwater gages or in
observation wells. It is expressed as the distance between the water level at a given location
and a reference point, e. g. the top edge of the pipe or well. Simple gages produce a sound or
trigger a light when the water level is reached. Gages for continuous observation are recording
float-, compressed air- or remote gages (see section 6).
The observations of each gage are printed as hydrographs or lines of constant piezometric head
for extended areas (Figure 5.3). It is obvious that continuous groundwater withdrawal at a well
strongly affects the shape of the groundwater table.

Figure 5.3:

Influence of water withdrawal at a well on the piezometric head distribution

5.4 Groundwater dynamics


For the underground flow of water we must differentiate between several different notions of
velocity. This is because in considering an underground cross section, the water does not flow
across the entire cross sectional area, but rather can only flow through continuously connected
pore spaces.
When we calculate the flow velocity for the entire cross section as a ratio of the volume of
flow and the cross sectional area, we obtain the so-called Filter or Darcy Velocity vd. This
follows a simple relationship. It is proportional to the fall in the groundwater level (or total
energy head) and dependent on the soils hydraulic permeability.

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vd = k f I P
vd
kf
IP

(5.2)

[m/s]
[m/s]
[m/m]

Darcy velocity
saturated hydraulic conductivity
groundwater level gradient between two piezometers

The minus sign in the equation indicates that for a negative gradient, the flow velocity is in the
direction of the gradient. The actual velocity of a water molecule is somewhat higher, as the
total volume of the flow occurs only through interconnected pore spaces, which represent only
a fraction of the cross sectional area. The so-called Seepage Velocity vS is principally used in
calculating the spreading of contamination, is always larger than vd and calculated by:

v
vS = d 100
ne
vS
vd
ne

(5.3)

[m/s]
seepage velocity
[m/s]
Darcy velocity
[Vol-%] effective porosity

In addition there exists yet another idea for the velocity, the so-called True path velocity vt. It
is calculated as a quotient of the length of a segment of a streamline and the time needed for
the groundwater to flow along this segment. It is again larger than the seepage velocity, as the
streamline a water molecule follows is not a straight line, but a winding path. It is very difficult
to directly measure the true path velocity.
Equation (5.2) only applies to the special case of a 1-dimensional flow under completely
saturated conditions. The general case of 3-dimensional flow in the saturated and unsaturated
state is described by the basic dynamic equation:
Vd = k f () grad( )
Vd
kf()
grad()

[m/s]
[m/s]
[m/m]
[m]

Darcy velocity vector


hydraulic permeability depending on water content
gradient operator (directional derivative) of the total potential
total potential

(5.4)

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The hydraulic permeability dependent on the water content is calculated by:

k f () = k f
n 0
kf()
kf

0
n

(5.5)

[m/s]
[m/s]
[Vol-%]
[Vol-%]

hydraulic permeability depending on water content


saturated hydraulic conductivity
water content
Residual water content below which the hydraulic conductivity equals
0
[Vol-%] porosity
[-]
weighting factor, (here, often = 3)

The Total potential represented by the water level is calculated as follows:


p

z g above the groundwater surface


W
=
z + p
below the groundwater surface
W g

z
p
W
g

[m]
[m]
[Pa]
[kg/m3]
[m/s2]

with z = 0 at groundwater surface

(5.6)

total potential
geodetic height
pressure
density of water
gravitational acceleration = 9,81 m/s2

grad() is calculated as a partial derivative for all directions:


grad( ) =
,
,

(5.7)

The basic dynamic equation alone however produces no useful results, due to the strong time
and position dependent nature of potential and the saturation of subterranean water flows. One
must also additionally use the principle of mass conservation, through the Continuity
Equation. It states that in an examined soil element the difference between the flow into and
out of the element must equal the change in water storage within the element. This is of course

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Hydrology I - 70

only valid when no source or sink is present within the element.


The continuity equation for the 3-dimensional unsaturated case is given as:

div(Vd ) =

t 100

div(Vd)[m/s]
Vd
[m/s]

[Vol-%]
t
[s]

(5.8)

divergence operator of the Darcy velocity vector


Darcy velocity vector
water content
time frame

The negative sign indicates that the storage volume only increases if the gradient of the Darcy
velocity along the positive coordinate axis of the Cartesian coordinate system is negative. The
continuity conditions can be clearly seen by looking at an elemental volume (Figure 5.4).

Figure 5.4:

Elemental volume in the soil matrix

First we consider only the flow in the x-direction only. It is deemed to be:
Q x = vd,x A x = vd,x dy dz

Qx
vd,x
Ax
dy, dz

[m3/s]
[m/s]
[m2]
[m]

(5.9)

flow in x-direction
Darcy velocity in x-direction
area perpendicular to the x-direction
length of the elemental volume in y- and z-directions respectively

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If the Darcy velocity changes continuously within the element, the change in the entering and
exiting velocities is given by:

dvd,x =
dvd,x
vd,x
dx

vd,x
x
[m/s]
[m/s]
[m]

(5.10)

dx
change in the Darcy velocity in x-direction
Darcy velocity in x-direction
length of the elemental volume in x-direction

Therefore the discharge in the x-direction also changes

dQ x = dvd,x dy dz =
dQx
[m3/s]
vd,x
[m/s]
dx, dy, dz [m]

vd,x
x

dx dy dz

(5.11)

change in flow in x-direction


Darcy velocity in x-direction
length of the elemental volume in x-, y- and z-directions respectively

The difference between in and out flow over a known time period finally yields the change of
water storage in the element.

dVS,x = dQ x dt =
dVS,x
dQx
vd,x
dx, dy, dz
dt

[m3]
[m3/s]
[m/s]
[m]
[s]

vd,x
x

dx dy dz dt

(5.12)

change in storage due to flow changes in the x-direction


change in flow in x-direction
Darcy velocity in x-direction
length of the elemental volume in x-, y- and z-directions respectively
time frame

This is of course not only the case for the x-direction. The storage changes in the y- and zdirections can be calculated in the same way, so giving the total change in storage in the
element by:

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v d,x vd,y vd,z


dVS = dVS,x + dVS,y + dVS,z =
+
+
dx dy dz dt
y
z
x
or
dVS = div(Vd ) VE dt
dVS
dVS,x,y,z

[m3]
[m3]

vd,x,y,z
dx, dy, dz
dt
div(Vd)
VE

[m/s]
[m]
[s]
[m/s]
[m3]

(5.13)

change in storage within elemental volume


change in storage due to changes in flow in the x-, y- and z-directions
respectively
Darcy velocity in x-, y- and z-directions respectively
length of the elemental volume in x-, y- and z-directions respectively
time frame
divergence of the Darcy velocity vector
element volume

The storage volume within the element is connected to the total volume of the element with the
water content:

VS =

VS

VE

VE
100

(5.14)

[m3]
storage volume within an element
[Vol-%] water content
[m3]
element volume.

This relationship can now be considered and inserted into equation (5.13), maintaining the
elemental volume to be constant:
VE


d
=div(Vd ) VE dt VE d = div(Vd ) VE dt d =div(Vd ) dt

100
100
100

(5.15)

Through further rearranging and the transition to incremental time steps, one finally obtains the
continuity equation.
Using the dynamic basic equation in the continuity equation one obtains the general differential
equations for groundwater flow.
The average permeability of the ground can be established using pump tests. The water level
is either raised or lowered artificially. The time needed for the water level to arrive at steady
state conditions can be used as a measure of the hydraulic permeability of the earth.

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Table 5.1:

Permeability of natural rock- and soil bodies

Material

kf in m/s

Material

kf in m/s

Scree
Gravel (coarse)
Gravel (fine)
Sand (coarse)
Sand (fine)
Sand (loamy or silty)

1 to 5
10-2 to 1
10-3 to 10-2
10-4 to 10-3
10-5 to 10-4
10-6 to 10-5

Loess
Silt
Loam
Loam (silty)
Clay (lean)
Clay (rich)

10-7 to 10-6
10-9 to 10-7
10-9 to 10-8
10-10 to 10-9
10-12 to 10-10

The average Darcy velocity can also be found using tracers. The time the groundwater marked
by a tracer takes to move from the input gage to a receiver gage downstream is measured.
Measurements provide a curve of tracer-concentration versus time at the receiver gage.

5.5 Groundwater recharge


The major portion of groundwater recharge is provided by precipitation infiltration into the
ground and percolation down to the groundwater body. The groundwater recharge rate, which
is the volume of water seeping towards the groundwater per unit time, may be determined
from groundwater regime equations. Since the availability of groundwater equals the
groundwater recharge rate in the long-term average, the groundwater regime equation for
closed, larger river basins can be expressed as follows:
GR = h P h E h Q

GR
hP
hE
hQ

[mm]
[mm]
[mm]
[mm]

(5.16)

groundwater replenishment
height of precipitation
evaporation height
discharge height

Table 5.2 displays different groundwater recharge rates.


Presently (98), annually about 3,5109 m3 of groundwater are withdrawn. This is about 65% of
all drinking water consumed. The overall annual water demand in Germany, including process
water, irrigation and power plant cooling amounts to approximately 48109 m3.

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Table 5.2:

Rate of evaporation and groundwater recharge of various land surface types in


the Rhine-Main-plains related to the mean annual precipitation of 663 mm
(1931 to 1960)

Surface type
Dense development
Bare soil
Sparsely overgrown
Arable land
Loose development
Meadows
Shrubs
Forest
Open-water surface
1)
2)
3)

Evaporation rate
mm/a
% of hP

Groundwater recharge rate


mm/a
% of hP

133
265
345
431
464
497
564
597
713

01)
398
318
232
199
166
99
66
-3)

20
40
52
65
70
75
85
902)
108

Only surface runoff, therefore no groundwater recharge


Beech trees, Red oak, fir trees
85 %
Grape oak, Pine trees, Larch
95 %
Evaporation exceeding precipitation

01)
60
48
35
30
25
15
11
-3)

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Hydrology I - 75

Runoff

6.1 Definition and variability


Runoff is the overall volume of water that exits a drainage basin through either the outflow
cross-section (surface and/or subsurface) or other means. It is derived from the transformation
of precipitation within the drainage basin. Most commonly, it is measured in unit m3/s. The
discharge volume passing a given cross-section of water within a certain period of time is
referred to as discharge and measured in unit m3/s. It arises from the concentration of areal
flow in the river, stream or canal. According to the vertical division of the soil body, three flow
components may be distinguished:
Surface runoff that comprises of all surface flows draining the basin.
Interflow that consists of the flow within soil stratums close to the surface and the lower
vegetation zone.
Groundwater flow that derives from groundwater.
Surface runoff, the fastest type of runoff, together with the fast flowing portion of subsurface
flow is called direct runoff. The fraction of precipitation that contributes to direct runoff is
referred to as effective rainfall. Base flow, on the contrary, is made up of the slower moving
interflow and groundwater flow. The different flow components and their origins are illustrated
in Figure 6.1.

Figure 6.1:

Flow components and their origins

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The surface runoff QO,s at a given cross-section of an open channel divided by its respective
catchment area AC represents the specific discharge.
q=

QO,s

(6.1)

AC
[m3/(skm2)] specific discharge
[m3/s]
surface runoff
2
[km ]
catchment area

q
QO,s
AC

The specific discharge of several river basins in Germany is stated in Table 6.1.
Table 6.1:

Specific discharge of river basins in Germany

Type of catchment

Specific discharge

Ratio of
NNq to
HHq

NNq

HHq

In the proximity to a well in


mountainous region (without glacier)
Mountainous or hilly region

0,002
0,004
0,002

0,35 0,6

1 : 150
1 : 90

Hilly region

0,0018

Plains

0,0015

Level ground, sandy or moory

0,0012
0,0015

0,18
0,23
0,12
0,18
0,06
0,12
0,035
0,06

Remarks
NNq: Lowest value ever recorded
[m3/s km2].
HHq: Highest value ever recorded
[m3/s km2].

1 : 75
1 : 50
1 : 35

Large-scale precipitation, fast and


nearly complete runoff
Intermediate precipitation, fast runoff
Intermediate precipitation, slow and
incomplete runoff
Low
precipitation,
slow
and
incomplete runoff
Low precipitation, predominantly
absorbed

The ratio of effective rainfall or direct runoff to the total height of precipitation is known as the
total runoff coefficient .
=

hP,e
hP

h P, e

(6.2)

hP
[mm]
[mm]
[-]

effective height of precipitation


height of precipitation
total runoff coefficient

In contrast, the peak discharge coefficient P describes the ratio of peak discharge to

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maximum precipitation. From the consideration of flood hydrograph computation, it means the
ratio of precipitation of constant intensity and defined duration (block precipitation) hP,i to
the peak discharge HQ under inclusion of retention effects.

Hq =
Hq
HQ
AC

P =
P
Hq
iP

HQ
AC

(6.3)

[m3/(skm2)] maximum specific discharge


[m3/s]
peak discharge
2
[km ]
catchment area
Hq
iP

(6.4)

3, 6

[-]
peak discharge coefficient
3
2
[m /(skm )] maximum specific discharge
[mm/h] precipitation intensity

6.2 Discharge
6.2.1 Interrelation between water level and discharge
It is necessary to determine the specific yield of surface water bodies at given cross-sections.
Therefore, the task is to determine the time-discharge relation Q(t) or discharge hydrograph.
Due to the impossibility of continuous discharge measurements, the time-discharge relation
Q(t) can be obtained from the water level hydrograph under the assumption that the water
level/ discharge relation is known. This relation of water level over discharge is termed
discharge curve W = f(Q). It is estimated by discharge gages at the respective discharge
cross-section. The measurements provide either coherent pairs of assigned values or a
functional connection. The fundamental assumption is a connection of water level and
discharge in the form of a potential function

Q = a Wb
Q
a,b

[m3/s]
[-]

(6.5)
stream flow
formula parameters

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[m]

Hydrology I - 78

waterlevel

Expressing equation (6.5) in logarithmic terms provides a linear relation of the type

log Q = log a + b log(W )


Q
a,b
W

[m3/s]
[-]
[m]

(6.6)

stream flow
formula parameters
waterlevel

that may approximately be represented by 2 or 3 lines. A discharge curve is considered reliable


if discharge is gaged on at least each 10 % point of the possible total water level change. The
precision of the water-level discharge relation is of major importance. If the hydraulic or
geometric parameters at the discharge measurement point changes, the resulting discharge
curve must be checked. A new discharge curve has to be produced if the mean relative errors
exceed 20 %, 5 % or 10 % in low, middle or high water areas, respectively.

6.2.2 Methods of measurement


The most commonly used method to determine discharge is the measurement of water
velocity using current meters, either floating or attached to a rod (Figure 6.2). The device is
placed at the respective points of velocity measurement v in the discharge cross-section along a
steel wire (floating gage) or with the help of a rod (rod current meter). Thereby the size of the
discharge cross-section AD is obtained from depth-and width-measurements for the respective
water level at the reference gage, the mean flow velocity v from a plurality of velocity
measurements. Applying equation (6.7) provides the discharge

Q = v AD
Q
v
AD

[m3/s]
[m/s]
[m2]

(6.7)
stream flow
flow velocity
discharge cross-section

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Figure 6.2:

Hydrology I - 79

Current meter

The measurement of discharge by tracer dilution is used when conditions are not favorable
for current meter measurement. In rock-strewn, shallow streams or rough channels carrying
highly turbulent flow, the dilution technique provides an effective method of flow
measurement. In this method, a tracer solution of known concentration, in known quantity, is
injected into the stream to be diluted by discharge of the stream. At a cross-section
downstream from the injection site, water is sampled to determine the concentration of the
tracer solution. Applying the principle of conservation of mass, the discharge is determined
directly.
Furthermore, discharge may be determined by container measurement or with the help of
weirs and notches. It is crucial to use weirs that allow the water to form a nappe and thus
enable free flow (Figure 6.3) where discharge is not dependent on the tailwater. The weirs may
be rectangular or triangle-shaped and constitute a cross-section of clearly defined discharge/
water level conditions. The relation of discharge to water stage and ultimately the dischargewater stage curve may be determined and calibrated in the form of a coefficient of discharge.

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Figure 6.3:

Hydrology I - 80

Weirs

Measurements through weirs are suitable for low discharges, wells and small streams
containing steep gradients. For the triangular or V-notch weir
5
Q = 2.363 T tan h W 2

Q
hW

[m3/s]
[m]

stream flow
water depth

[-]

triangular weir coefficient where: T = 0.565 + 0.0087 h -0.5

(6.8)

[]
half opening angle
Container measurements are commonly taken only at wells or in small streams and provide a
direct measurement of discharge:
Q=

Q
VO
t

VO
t

[m3/s]
[m3]
[sec]

(6.9)
stream flow
discharge volume
time step

Electromagnetic or ultrasonic methods may be applied to determine the discharge of largediameter rivers or canals. The electromagnetic method is based on the theory of
electromagnetic induction. According to this, the flowing water on the river cuts the vertical
component of the earths magnetic field and an electromotive force (emf) is inducted in the

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Hydrology I - 81

water. This emf is sensed by an artificial magnetic field installed normal to the direction of flow
and is directly proportional to the velocity vm of flow. If the cross-section of the site AD is
known, discharge is:

Q = vm A D
Q
vm
AD

[m3/s]
[m/s]
[m2]

(6.10)
stream flow discharge
mean velocity
discharge cross-section

The ultrasonic method uses two transducers mounted on each river bank in an oblique
direction, as shown in Figure 6.4. Soundwaves travelling downstream (from A to B) have a
higher velocity than those travelling upstream (B to A) due to the stream velocity component
parallel to the acoustic path. Two receivers and a processor compute the average velocity
using the difference in up- and downstream travel time, the distance of the transducers and the
appropriate angle . Ultimately the discharge Q may be computed.

Figure 6.4:

Principle of ultrasonic flow measurement

Another possibility to measure discharge is the Venturi flume. Its artificial flow cross-section
constriction induces a flow transition from streaming to shooting (see Figure 6.5). In this case,
downstream conditions do not influence upstream conditions and discharge can be calculated
from the headwater depth and flume width.

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Q = C3 V g b (h W, h
Q
C3
V
g
b
hW,h

[m3/s]
[-]
[-]
[m/s2]
[m]
[m]

3
)2

Hydrology I - 82

(6.11)

stream flow
formula parameter 0.95 - 1
velocity factor for Venturi flumes 1 1.3
gravitational acceleration = 9,81 m/s2
width of the Venturi flume
headwater depth

Since the flume cross-section is not constricted by measuring devices, this methods lends itself
well for dirty waters.

Figure 6.5:

Venturi flume

6.3 Measurement of stage


The water level or stage at a given location is the height of the water surface in a stream above
a fixed datum (usually gage datum zero). We can also distinguish between recording and
nonrecording gages.
The simplest is the staff gage (Figure 6.6). Water stage is manually observed daily at a fixed
time. Staff gages with a division are placed vertically in the water or, dependent on the shape
of the river bank, attached to the shore at an angle as stair gage.

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Recording gages (Figure 6.7) provide a continuous record of stage W(t) via sensors that
transmit the respective stage to a recorder and finally to a data storage device. There is a
variety of sensor types such as: floats, pressure transducers, bubble gages, capacitive probes,
ultrasonic gages and point gages. To record the measured water levels, drum charts (for
example with one-week-revolution), strip charts or digital tapes are used. Long-distance
remote transmission of stage data to the central control office constitutes an important
prerequisite for flood models. For control purposes, each recording gage site should be backed
up with a staff gage.

Figure 6.6:

Types of staff gages

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Figure 6.7:

Hydrology I - 84

Recording gage station

6.4 Characteristic values / curves in water management


6.4.1 Preface
Since all observed discharge data are subject to errors it is essential to check them for
consistency and homogeneity. However, these tests as well as probability and relation analysis
and test procedures are discussed in detail in the lectures "Statistics" and "Hydrological
Simulation" and are not pursued any further here.

6.4.2 Hydrographs
The discharge hydrograph Q(t) presents all discharge data in the order of their temporal
appearance. Usually certain discrete values such as mean and extremes that derive from the
hydrograph are assessed. The long-term discharge hydrograph Q(t) describes the variation of
discharge and may be subdivided into low and mean discharge and floods (Figure 6.8).
Determination of appropriate limits may be based on various aspects such as statistics or
ecology. According to the respective assignment, the temporal variability of discharge has to
be taken into consideration. Discharge may feature long-term (several years), annual (annual
cycle) and short-term (daily or hourly) variations.

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Figure 6.8:

Hydrology I - 85

Discharge hydrograph, its subdivisions and limits (source: Dyck 1995)

Continual integration of a hydrograph over a period of time provides the cumulative curve.
Usually the integration is started from an initial value S(t0) = 0.
t

S( t ) = Q (t) dt + S( t 0 )

(6.12)

t0

S(t)
Q(t)
t0

[m3]
summation hydrograph
3
[m /s]
flow hydrograph
[s,h,d,a] starting time

6.4.3 Frequency, cumulative frequency and duration curve


Most observed or design values may acquire any value which means that they are continuous
variables. Considering the frequency distribution, the present range the variable may acquire
is subsectioned in classes of a certain interval. After the Q- or W-values have been arranged
according to their magnitude, the number of values that fall into each class is determined
(absolute frequency). The relative frequency is then the ratio of absolute frequency to the
total of values in unit percent. Assuming a suitable choice for the class limits the values
distribute evenly into the classes. Plotting the absolute or relative frequency against the class
limits provides a histogram (Figure 6.9).
The cumulative frequency is computed by continuous addition of relative and absolute
frequency. The relation between observed value and cumulative frequency is described by the
cumulative frequency curve. Adding the variates from the lowest to the highest provides the

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cumulative decrease curve, while starting from the highest variate provides the cumulative
exceedence curve. The diagrams that relate to it are termed duration curves (Figure 6.9). They
provide information about the total duration of decrease or exceedence of a waterlevel- or
discharge -variate within a given observation time-span. The duration curve presents observed
or computed data according to their magnitude and therefore constitutes a hydrograph or time
series in magnitudal order. The duration and cumulative value remain constant. The discrete
duration values (exceedence or decrease variates) state how often a certain magnitude is
unexceeded, equaled or exceeded. To evaluate the exceedence or decrease variates, it is
important to know in which manner the class limits were started. Usually the following is
applied:
unexceedence variate Nu(x)
x is equaled or unexceeded
exceedence variate Ne(x)
x is only exceeded
class limits:
xk-1 < x <= xk

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Hydrology I - 87

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

The relation between variate of exceedence and unexceedence may be expressed as:
N e ( x ) = n N u (x )
Ne(x)
Nu(x)
n

[-]
[-]
[-]

(6.13)

absolute number of exceedence


absolute number of unexceedence
number of observations

Fe ( x ) = 1 Fu ( x )
Fe(x)
Fu(x)

Fe ( x ) =

[-]
[-]
N e (x)
n

(6.14)
relative number of exceedence
relative number of unexceedence

and

Fu ( x ) =

N u (x )
n

(6.15)

The duration curves applied in water resources management are usually based on daily
measurements within the hydrologic year, the summer or winter half-year. Figure 6.9 displays
the typical process of computation of a duration curve for the example of frequency curve and
duration curve from daily stage observations. The classes are formed as discussed above. As a
result, the lowest limit can only decrease the lowest variate of the time series and the
uppermost limit equals the highest variate of the time series. The class intervals xk are
extended for higher water levels to obtain at least one variate per class.

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Figure 6.9:

Hydrology I - 88

Computation of histogram and duration curves from discrete measurements

Mean duration curves (averaged over the ordinates) can be determined by computing the
mean of several annual duration curves. Thereby, the observed values of duration variate are
averaged. Note: Averaged duration curves are not genuine duration curves of the observation
interval.

6.4.4 Principal figures


There is a plurality of average values and limits that are, as a whole, termed principal figures of
hydrography. The principal figure is a combination of the statistical information (e.g. MN)
preceding the variate type (e.g. Q or N).

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 89

lowest value in a period of time


(e.g. NQ, lowest discharge in observation time)
H
highest value in a period of time
(e.g. HW, highest waterlevel in observation time)
NN
lowest known value
(e.g. NNQ lowest discharge ever recorded at the site)
HH
highest known value
(e. g. HHW highest water level ever recorded at the site)
M
Arithmetic mean
MN
mean of lower limits
(e. g. MNQ as long-year mean of annual NQ)
MH
mean of upper limits
(e. g. MHQ as long-year mean of annual HQ)
Z
Median
(e.g. ZQ as discharge that was equal times exceeded and unexceeded in a
period of time)
Events of low discharge have to be valued from discharge (water stage) and duration.

6.5 Hydrograph analysis


Under the presumption that discharge can be subdivided into different components
(section 6.1), effective rainfall and consequently direct runoff or the base flow serve as input in
hydrologic modeling (Figure 6.1). In quantitative terms, the individual components may be
computed from a variety of approaches. Flood hydrographs feature very distinct shares of
discharge. In the case of a flood hydrograph, situations as indicated in Figure 6.10 may occur.

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

Hydrology I - 90

Figure 6.10: Possible types of flood flow hydrographs


For small catchments (Figure 6.10a and b), extreme discharge events derive from short,
intensive rainfall. Thus, groundwater outflow and interflow are only of minor importance. For
catchments of medium size, groundwater outflow and interflow have to be taken into account
(Figure 6.10c). In the case of larger watersheds (Figure 6.10d), a bigger portion of discharge
is, always dependent on soil type and vegetation, contributed by groundwater outflow and
interflow. This is because extreme discharge volumes in this regard are based on rainfall events
of longer duration and lower intensity.

6.5.1 Separation of base flow


Simple models only make use of two components of the flood hydrograph, that means that
only the respective shares of base flow and direct runoff need to be estimated. The
appearance of the rise in discharge is mainly due to characteristics of the drainage basin
and rainfall, the decline is dependent on the storage properties. As there is a plurality of
responsible factors, no strong relations between the hydrograph shape and the respective
factors can be computed.
Usually only general statements can be made:
In the case of very small watersheds, the flow discharge consists almost only of the surface
runoff. Separation of base flow according to line a is appropriate (Figure 6.11) (constant base
flow). In small and medium catchments, direct surface runoff still contributes the major share
to discharge. Interflow may be taken into consideration applying curve b or c (Figure 6.11). In
the case of large catchments, the emphasis is shifted from direct runoff to interflow. Usually

UNIVERSITT STUTTGART
INSTITUTE OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
CHAIR OF HYDROLOGY AND GEOHYDROLOGY

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr.-Ing. Andrs Brdossy

only groundwater flow is separated as base flow.

Figure 6.11: Possibilities to separate base flow

Hydrology I - 91