Water Resources Management

, Volume 22, Issue 11, pp 1545-1560

First online:

Hypsometric Integral Estimation Methods and its Relevance on Erosion Status of North-Western Lesser Himalayan Watersheds

  • Omvir SinghAffiliated withCentre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • , A. SarangiAffiliated withWater Technology Centre, IARI Email author 
  • , Milap C. SharmaAffiliated withCentre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University

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Assessment of erosion status of a watershed is an essential prerequisite of integrated watershed management. This not only assists in chalking out suitable soil and water conservation measures to arrest erosion and conserve water but also helps in devising best management practices to enhance biomass production in watersheds. The geologic stages of development and erosion proneness of the watersheds are quantified by hypsometric integral. The estimation of hypsometric integral is carried out from the graphical plot of the measured contour elevation and encompassed area and by using empirical formulae. In this study, efforts were made to estimate the hypsometric integral values of the Sainj and Tirthan watersheds and their sub watersheds in the Lesser Himalayas using four different techniques, and to compare the procedural techniques of its estimation and relevance on erosion status. It was revealed that the hypsometric integral calculated by elevation–relief ratio method was accurate, less cumbersome and easy to calculate within GIS environment. Also comparison of these hypsometric integral values revealed that the Sainj watershed (0.51) was more prone to erosion than the Tirthan watershed (0.41). Further, the validation of these results with the recorded sediment yield data of 24 years (1981–2004) corroborated that the average annual sediment yield during this period for Sainj watershed (0.53 Mt) was more than that of the Tirthan watershed (0.3 Mt). Thus, the hypsometric integral value can be used as an estimator of erosion status of watersheds leading to watershed prioritization for taking up soil and water conservation measures in watershed systems.


GIS Hypsometry Drainage basin Watershed degradation Geologic stage Erosion status