Articles | Volume 370
11 Jun 2015
 | 11 Jun 2015

On the possibilities of watershed parameterization for extreme flow estimation in ungauged basins

S. Kohnová, B. Karabová, and K. Hlavčová

Abstract. The estimation of design discharges and water levels of extreme floods is one of the most important parts of the design process for a large number of engineering projects and studies. Design flood estimates require a consideration of the hydrological, meteorological and physiographical situation, the legal requirements, and the available estimation techniques and methods. In the last decades changes in floods have been observed (Hall et al., 2014) which makes design flood estimation particularly challenging. Methods of design flood estimation can be applied either locally or regionally. A significant problem may arise in small catchments that are poorly gauged or when no recorded data exist. To obtain the design values in such cases, many countries have adopted procedures that fit the local conditions and requirements. One of these methods is the Soil Conservation Service – Curve number (SCS-CN) method which is often used in design flood estimation for ungauged sites, including those in Slovakia. Since the method was derived on the basis of the specific characteristics of selected river basins in the United States, it may lead to significant uncertainties in other countries with different hydrological conditions. The aim of this study was to test the SCN-CN method and derive regional runoff curve numbers based on rainfall and discharge measurements for selected region in Slovakia. The results show that the classical CN method gives too high estimates of event runoff depths and is not valid in the study area. To avoid the overestimation of runoff caused by extreme rainfall events, the use of the empirically derived regional runoff curves was tested and finally proposed for practical application in engineering hydrology.

Short summary
This paper is devoted to the SCN-CN method. The aim of the study was to derive empirical regional runoff CNs based on rainfall and discharge measurements for selected region in Slovakia. The CNs were treated as a random variable and were divided into three classes (I,II and III) with percentiles limits (0.10 and 0.90) of their distribution. A regional relationship for estimating coefficient λ was proposed. Finally, empirical regional runof curves with coefficient λ were derived.