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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-347
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-347
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 19 Jul 2018

Research article | 19 Jul 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

A methodology to estimate flow duration curves at partially ungauged basins

Elena Ridolfi1, Hemendra Kumar2, and András Bárdossy3 Elena Ridolfi et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy
  • 2Department of Biosystems Engineering Auburn University, Alabama, USA
  • 3Institute of Hydraulic Engineering, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany

Abstract. The Flow Duration Curve (FDC) set up at a specific site has a key role to the knowledge of the streamflow characteristic at that site. The FDC gives information on the water regime providing important information to optimally manage the water resources of the river. Spite of its importance, because of the lack of streamflow gauging stations, the FDC construction can be a not straightforward task. In ungauged or partially gauged catchments, FDCs are usually built using regionalization methods among the others. In this paper we show that the FDC is not a characteristic of the basin only, but of both the basin and the weather. Different weather conditions lead to different FDC for the same catchment. The differences can often be significant. Similarly, the FDC built at a site for a specific period of time cannot be used to retrieve the FDC at a different site for the same time window.

In this paper we propose a new methodology to estimate FDCs at partially gauged basins (i.e., target sites) using discharge and precipitation data gauged at another catchment (i.e., reference catchment). The main idea is that it is possible to retrieve the FDC of a target period of time using the data gauged during a given reference time period for which data are available at both target and reference sites.

To test the methodology, several reference and target time periods are analysed and results are shown for two different case study areas. The comparison between estimated and actually observed FDCs show the reasonability of the approach especially for intermediate percentiles.

Elena Ridolfi et al.
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Elena Ridolfi et al.
Elena Ridolfi et al.
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Short summary
A Flow Duration Curve (FDC) is a function describing the flow variability at a specific site during a period of interest, providing important information to optimally manage the water resources of the river. However, the lack of streamflow gauging stations makes difficult the construction of a FDC. This work proposes a simple and reliable methodology to estimate FDCs at partially ungauged sites using discharge and precipitation data gauged at another catchment.
A Flow Duration Curve (FDC) is a function describing the flow variability at a specific site...
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