Skip to main content

Comparison of methods for estimation of flood hydrograph characteristics


This research has been carried out for investigation and comparison of the accuracy and reliability of different methods of unit hydrograph estimation, including geomorphologic (GIUH) and geomorphoclimatic (GCIUH) methods as well as methods by Nash (Nash-IUH), Rosso (Rosso-IUH) and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS); the methods simulated the rainfall-runoff process over the Manshad River basin located in central Iran. The first six equivalent rainfall-runoff events were selected, and a hydrograph of outlet runoff was calculated for each event. Compared were peak time, peak discharge, base time, W 50 and W 75 parameters (hydrograph widths at 50% and 75% of peak discharge) and the volume of outlet runoff simulated by the models; then determined was the model that most efficiently estimated the hydrograph of outlet flow. The comparison of calculated and observed hydrographs showed that the Nash model was more efficient in estimating peak discharge, peak time, outlet runoff volume and the shape of direct surface runoff (DSRO) hydrographs, though it could not precisely simulate base time and W 50 and W 75 parameters. The other methods were more accurate in simulating outlet runoff volume of the hydrographs. The Rosso-IUH and SCS models could estimate the base time parameter better than the others. GIUH performance was comparable to the Nash method and was relatively suitable. In spite of these results, the GIUH, GCIUH, Rosso-IUH and SCS models had weak performance for estimating other characteristics of outlet DSRO hydrographs.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    U. Agirre, M. Goni, J. J. Lopez, and F. N. Gimena, “Application of a Unit Hydrograph Based on Sub Watershed Division and Comparison with Nash Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph,” J. Catena, No. 2–3, 64 (2005).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    M. M. Ahmad, A. R. Ghumman, and S. Ahmad, “Estimation of Clark’s Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph Parameters and Development of Direct Surface Runoff Hydrograph,” J. Water Resour. Manag., 23 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    M. M. Ahmad, A. R. Ghumman, S. Ahmad, and H. N. Hashmi, “Estimation of a Unique Pair of Nash Model Parameters: An Optimization Approach,” J. Water Resour. Manag., No. 12, 24 (2010).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    M. H. Ajward and I. Muzik, “A Spatially Varied Unit Hydrograph Model,” J. Environ. Hydrol., No. 7, 8 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    A. Bhadra, N. Panigrahy, R. Singh, et al., “Development of a Geomorphological Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph Model for Scantily Gauged Watersheds,” Environ. Model. Softw., No. 8, 23 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    V. T. Chow, D. R. Maidment, and L. W. Mays, Applied Hydrology (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1988).

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    W. T. Collins, “Runoff Distribution Graphs from Precipitation Occurring in More than One Time Unit,” Civ. Eng. (NY), No. 9, 9 (1939).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    J. R. Cordova and I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, “Geomorphoclimatic Estimation of Extreme Flow Probabilities, J. Hydrol., 65 (1983).

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    C. Cudennec, Y. Fouad, I. Sumarjo Goto, and J. Duchesne, “A Geomorphological Explanation of the Unit Hydrograph Concept,” Hydrol. Process, 18 (2004).

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    S. H. Dong, “Genetic Algorithm Based Parameter Estimation of Nash Model,” J. Water Resour. Manag. (2007).

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    J. C. I. Dooge, “A General Theory of the Unit Hydrograph,” J. Geophys. Res., No. 2, 64 (1959).

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    V. K. Gupta, E. Waymire, and C. T. Wang, “A Representation of an Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph from Geomorphology,” J. Water Resour. Manag., No. 5, 16 (1980).

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    M. J. Hall, A. F. Zaki, and M. M. A. Shahin, “Regional Analysis Using the Geomorphoclimatic Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph,” J. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., No. 1, 5 (2001).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    R. E. Horton, “Erosional Development of Streams and Their Drainage Basins: Hydrophysical Approach to Quantitative Morphology,” Bull. Geo. Soc. Amer., 56 (1945).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    V. Jainand and R. Sinha, “Derivation of Unit Hydrograph from GIUH Analysis for a Himalayan River,” J. Water Resour. Manag., 17 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    R. I. Jeng, and C. G. Coon, “True Form Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph of Linear Reservoirs,” J. IRRIG DRAINE-ASCE, No. 1, 129 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    M. R. Khaleghi, V. Gholami, J. Ghodusi, and H. Hosseini, “Efficiency of the Geomorphologic Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph Method in Flood Hydrograph Simulation,” Catena, No. 11, 87 (2011).

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    R. Kumar, C. Chatterjee, A. K. Lohani, et al., “Sensitivity Analysis of the GIUH Based Clark Model for a Catchment,” Water Resour. Manag., 16 (2002).

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    R. Kumar, C. Chatterjee, R. D. Singh, et al., “Runoff Estimation for an Ungauged Catchment Using Geomorphological Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph (GIUH) Model,” Hydrol. Process., 21 (2007).

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Y. B. Liu, S. Gebremeskel, F. De Smedt, et al., “A Diffusive Transport Approach for Flow Routing in GIS-based Flood Modeling,” J. Hydrol., 283 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    A. Loukas, M. C. Quick, and S. O. Russell, “A Physically Based Stochastic-Deterministic Procedure for the Estimation of Flood Frequency,” J. Water Resour. Manag., No. 6, 10 (1996).

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    V. Mockus, Estimation of Direct Runoff from Storm Rainfall, National Engineering Handbook (NEH Notice 4-102. U.S. Dep. Agric., Soil Conser. Ser., Washington, DC, USA, 1972).

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    J. E. Nash, “The Form of the Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph,” Int. Assoc. Sci. Hydrol, 45 (1957).

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    J. E. Nash, “A Unit Hydrograph Study with Particut ar Reference to Brittsh Catchments,” J. Hydraul. Res., 17 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    J. E. Nash and J. V. Sutcliffe, “River Flow Forecasting through Conceptual Models, I: A Discussion of Principles,” J. Hydrol., 10 (1970).

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    V. Nourani, V. P. Singh, and H. Delafrouz, “Three Geomorphological Rainfall-Runoff Models Based on the Linear Reservoir Concept,” J. Catena, 76 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, M. Gonzalez-Sanabria, and R. L. Bras, “A Geomorphoclimatic Theory of the Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph,” Water Resour. Res., No. 4, 18 (1982).

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    I. Rodriguez-Iturbe and J. Valdes, “The Geomorphologic Structure of Hydrologic Response,” J. Water Resour. Manag., No. 6, 15 (1979).

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    R. Rosso, “Nash Model Relation to Horton Order Ratios,” Water Resour. Res., 20 (1984).

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    A. Y. Shamseldinand and J. E. Nash, “The Geomorphological Unit Hydrograph?a Critical Review,” J. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., No. 1, 2 (1998).

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    L. K. Sherman, “Stream Flow from Rainfall by Unit-Graph Method,” Eng. News-Record, 108 (1932).

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    V. P. Singh, Hydrologic Systems. Rainfall-Runoff Modeling, Vol. I (Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1988).

    Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    A. U. Sorman,“Estimation of Peak Discharge Using GIUH Model in Saudi Arabia,” J. Water Resour. Plann. Manag., No. 4, 121 (1995).

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    A. N. Strahler, “Quantitative Analysis of Watershed Geomorphology,” Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, No. 6, 38 (1957).

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    G. T. Wang and S. Chen, “A Linear Spatially Distributed Model for a Surface Rainfall-Runoff System, J. Hydrol., No. 1–4, 185 (1996).

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    F. Zakizadeh, Investigating the Efficiency of Geomorphologic Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph for Estimating Flood Hydrograph Characteristics (Case Study: Manshad Watershed), MSc Thesis (Yazd University, 2013).

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    J. Zelazinski, “Application of the Geomorphological Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph Theory to Development of Forecasting Models in Poland,” Hydrol. Sci. J., No. 2, 31 (1986).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to F. Zakizadeh.

Additional information

Original Russian Text © F. Zakizadeh, H. Malekinezhad, 2015, published in Meteorologiya i Gidrologiya, 2015, No. 12, pp. 74-86.

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zakizadeh, F., Malekinezhad, H. Comparison of methods for estimation of flood hydrograph characteristics. Russ. Meteorol. Hydrol. 40, 828–837 (2015).

Download citation


  • Rainfall-runoff model
  • instantaneous unit hydrograph
  • Nash model
  • Manshad basin