Assimilation of Streamflow Observations

  • Seong Jin NohEmail author
  • Albrecht H. Weerts
  • Oldrich Rakovec
  • Haksu Lee
  • Dong-Jun Seo
Reference work entry


Streamflow is arguably the most important predictor in operational hydrologic forecasting and water resources management. Assimilation of streamflow observations into hydrologic models has received growing attention in recent decades as a cost-effective means to improve prediction accuracy. Whereas the methods used for streamflow data assimilation (DA) originated and were popularized in atmospheric and ocean sciences, the nature of streamflow DA is significantly different from that of atmospheric or oceanic DA. Compared to the atmospheric processes modeled in weather forecasting, the hydrologic processes for surface and groundwater flow operate over a much wider range of time scales. Also, most hydrologic systems are severely under-observed. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a review on streamflow measurements and associated uncertainty and to share the latest advances, experiences gained, and science issues and challenges in streamflow DA. Toward this end, we discuss the following aspects of streamflow observations and assimilation methods: (1) measurement methods and uncertainty of streamflow observations, (2) streamflow assimilation applications, and (3) benefits and challenges streamflow DA with regard to large-scale DA, multi-data assimilation, and dealing with timing errors.


Streamflow Observation Data assimilation Hydrologic modeling Ensemble Kalman filtering Particle filtering Variational assimilation Multiscale bias correction Maximum likelihood ensemble filtering 


  1. S.D. Aberson, A. Aksoy, K.J. Sellwood, T. Vukicevic, X. Zhang, Mon. Weather Rev. 143, 511 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. K.M. Andreadis, G.J.-P. Schumann, Adv. Water Resour. 73, 44 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. K.M. Andreadis, E.A. Clark, D.P. Lettenmaier, D.E. Alsdorf, Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L10403 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. P. Arnaud, J. Lavabre, C. Fouchier, S. Diss, P. Javelle, Hydrol. Sci. J. 56, 397 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. J.M. Bergeron, M. Trudel, R. Leconte, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 20, 4375 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. K. Beven, Hydrol. Sci. J. 61, 1652 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. K. Beven, P.J. Smith, A. Wood, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 15, 3123 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. S. Biancamaria, F. Frappart, A.-S. Leleu, V. Marieu, D. Blumstein, J.-D. Desjonquères, F. Boy, A. Sottolichio, A. Valle-Levinson, Adv. Space Res. 59, 128 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. M.F.P. Bierkens, V.A. Bell, P. Burek, N. Chaney, L.E. Condon, C.H. David, A. de Roo, P. Döll, N. Drost, J.S. Famiglietti, M. Flörke, D.J. Gochis, P. Houser, R. Hut, J. Keune, S. Kollet, R.M. Maxwell, J.T. Reager, L. Samaniego, E. Sudicky, E.H. Sutanudjaja, N. van de Giesen, H. Winsemius, E.F. Wood, Hydrol. Process. 29, 310 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. C.M. Birkett, L.A.K. Mertes, T. Dunne, M.H. Costa, M.J. Jasinski, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 107, 8059 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. D.M. Bjerklie, S. Lawrence Dingman, C.J. Vorosmarty, C.H. Bolster, R.G. Congalton, J. Hydrol. 278, 17 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. D.M. Bjerklie, D. Moller, L.C. Smith, S.L. Dingman, J. Hydrol. 309, 191 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. E. Blayo, M. Bocquet, E. Cosme, L. F. Cugliandolo (eds.), Advanced Data Assimilation for Geosciences: Lecture Notes of the Les Houches School of Physics: Special Issue, June 2012, 1st edn. (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014)Google Scholar
  14. F. Bourgin, M.H. Ramos, G. Thirel, V. Andréassian, J. Hydrol. 519(Part D), 2775 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. K.A. Brewster, Mon. Weather Rev. 131, 480 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. H. Chen, D. Yang, Y. Hong, J.J. Gourley, Y. Zhang, Adv. Water Resour. 59, 209 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. M.P. Clark, A.G. Slater, J. Hydrometeorol. 7, 3 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. M.P. Clark, D.E. Rupp, R.A. Woods, X. Zheng, R.P. Ibbitt, A.G. Slater, J. Schmidt, M.J. Uddstrom, Adv. Water Resour. 31, 1309 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. M.P. Clark, B. Schaefli, S.J. Schymanski, L. Samaniego, C.H. Luce, B.M. Jackson, J.E. Freer, J.R. Arnold, R.D. Moore, E. Istanbulluoglu, S. Ceola, Water Resour. Res. 52, 2350 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. M.P. Clark, M.F.P. Bierkens, L. Samaniego, R.A. Woods, R. Uijenhoet, K.E. Bennet, V.R.N. Pauwels, X. Cai, A.W. Wood, C.D. Peters-Lidard, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss. 2017, 1 (2017)Google Scholar
  21. G. Coxon, J. Freer, I.K. Westerberg, T. Wagener, R. Woods, P.J. Smith, Water Resour. Res. 51, 5531 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. W.T. Crow, D. Ryu, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 13, 1 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. C.M. DeChant, H. Moradkhani, Water Resour. Res. 48, W04518 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. U. Ehret, E. Zehe, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 15, 877 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. G. Ercolani and F. Castelli, Water Resources Research 53, 158 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. J. Ewen, J. Hydrol. 408, 178 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. J. Fohringer, D. Dransch, H. Kreibich, K. Schröter, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. 15, 2725 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. J. García-Pintado, J.C. Neal, D.C. Mason, S.L. Dance, P.D. Bates, J. Hydrol. 495, 252 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. K.P. Georgakakos, Water Resour. Res. 22, 2083 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. L. Giustarini, P. Matgen, R. Hostache, M. Montanari, D. Plaza, V.R.N. Pauwels, G.J.M. De Lannoy, R. De Keyser, L. Pfister, L. Hoffmann, H.H.G. Savenije, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 15, 2349 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. D.J. Gochis, W. Yu, D.N. Yates., Available at (2014)
  32. P. Goovaerts, Geostatistics for Natural Resources Evaluation (Oxford University Press, New York, 1997)Google Scholar
  33. N.J. Gordon, D.J. Salmond, A.F. Smith, in Radar Signal Process. IEE Proc. F (1993), pp. 107–113Google Scholar
  34. F. Habets, A. Boone, J.L. Champeaux, P. Etchevers, L. Franchistéguy, E. Leblois, E. Ledoux, P. Le Moigne, E. Martin, S. Morel, J. Noilhan, P. Quintana Seguí, F. Rousset-Regimbeau, P. Viennot, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 113, D06113 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. J. Juston, P.-E. Jansson, D. Gustafsson, Hydrol. Process. 28, 2509 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. R.E. Kalman, J. Basic Eng. 82, 35 (1960)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. N. Kantas, A. Doucet, S.S. Singh, J. Maciejowski, N. Chopin, Stat. Sci. 30, 328 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. P.-E. Kirstetter, J.J. Gourley, Y. Hong, J. Zhang, S. Moazamigoodarzi, C. Langston, A. Arthur, Water Resour. Res. 51, 1422 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. P.K. Kitanidis, R.L. Bras, Water Resour. Res. 16, 1034 (1980)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. J.M.V.D. Knijff, J. Younis, A.P.J.D. Roo, Int. J. Geogr. Inf. Sci. 24, 189 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. S. Koswatte, K. McDougall, X. Liu, Surv. Rev. 47, 307 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. G. Kuczera, Water Resour. Res. 32, 2119 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. W.A. Lahoz, P. Schneider, Front. Environ. Sci. 2, 1 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. J. Le Coz, B. Renard, L. Bonnifait, F. Branger, R. Le Boursicaud, J. Hydrol. 509, 573 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. J. Le Coz, A. Patalano, D. Collins, N.F. Guillén, C.M. García, G.M. Smart, J. Bind, A. Chiaverini, R. Le Boursicaud, G. Dramais, I. Braud, J. Hydrol. 541(Part B), 766 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. H. Lee, D.-J. Seo, Adv. Water Resour. 74, 196 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. H. Lee, D.-J. Seo, V. Koren, Adv. Water Resour. 34, 1597 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. H. Lee, D.-J. Seo, S.J. Noh, J. Hydrol. 542, 373 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. D.P. Lettenmaier, D. Alsdorf, J. Dozier, G.J. Huffman, M. Pan, E.F. Wood, Water Resour. Res. 51, 7309 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Y. Liu, J. Brown, J. Demargne, D.-J. Seo, J. Hydrol. 397, 210 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Y. Liu, A.H. Weerts, M. Clark, H.-J. Hendricks Franssen, S. Kumar, H. Moradkhani, D.-J. Seo, D. Schwanenberg, P. Smith, A.I.J.M. van Dijk, N. van Velzen, M. He, H. Lee, S.J. Noh, O. Rakovec, P. Restrepo, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 16, 3863 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Y. Liu, C.D. Peters-Lidard, S. Kumar, J.L. Foster, M. Shaw, Y. Tian, G.M. Fall, Adv. Water Resour. 54, 208 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. C.S. Lowry, M.N. Fienen, Ground Water 51, 151 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. D. Maidment, Handbook of Hydrology, 1st edn. (McGraw-Hill Education, New York, 1993)Google Scholar
  55. P. Matgen, M. Montanari, R. Hostache, L. Pfister, L. Hoffmann, D. Plaza, V.R.N. Pauwels, G.J.M. De Lannoy, R. De Keyser, H.H.G. Savenije, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 14, 1773 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. M. Mazzoleni, M. Verlaan, L. Alfonso, M. Monego, D. Norbiato, M. Ferri, D.P. Solomatine, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 21, 839 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. R. T. McNider, J. R. Christy, D. Moss, K. Doty, C. Handyside, A. Limaye, A. Garcia y Garcia, and G. Hoogenboom, J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol. 50, 1459 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. H.K. McMillan, I.K. Westerberg, Hydrol. Process. 29, 1873 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. H. McMillan, B. Jackson, M. Clark, D. Kavetski, R. Woods, J. Hydrol. 400, 83 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. H. McMillan, T. Krueger, J. Freer, Hydrol. Process. 26, 4078 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. H.K. McMillan, E.Ö. Hreinsson, M.P. Clark, S.K. Singh, C. Zammit, M.J. Uddstrom, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 17, 21 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. K. Mogensen, W. Balmaseda, The NEMOVAR Ocean Data Assimilation System as Implemented in the ECMWF Ocean Analysis for System 4 (ECMWF, Reading, 2012)Google Scholar
  63. H. Moradkhani, Sensors 8, 2986 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. H. Moradkhani, K.-L. Hsu, H. Gupta, S. Sorooshian, Water Resour. Res. 41, W05012 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. A.J. Newman, M.P. Clark, J. Craig, B. Nijssen, A. Wood, E. Gutmann, N. Mizukami, L. Brekke, J.R. Arnold, J. Hydrometeorol. 16, 2481 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. S.J. Noh, Y. Tachikawa, M. Shiiba, S. Kim, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 15, 3237 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. S.J. Noh, Y. Tachikawa, M. Shiiba, S. Kim, J. Hydrol. Eng. 18, 1684 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. S.J. Noh, O. Rakovec, A.H. Weerts, Y. Tachikawa, J. Hydrol. 519(Part D), 2707 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. S.J. Noh, M. Mazzoleni, H. Lee, Y. Liu, D.-J. Seo, D.P. Solomatine, in Proceedings of Hydroinformatics 2016, Seoul, 2016Google Scholar
  70. T. O’Donell, Hydrol. Sci. J. 30, 479 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. D. Ocio, N. Le Vine, I. Westerberg, F. Pappenberger, W. Buytaert, Water Resour. Res. 53, 4197 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. F. Pan, C. Wang, X. Xi, J. Hydrol. 540, 670 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. J. Parajka, V. Naeimi, G. Blöschl, W. Wagner, R. Merz, K. Scipal, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 10, 353 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. S. Pathiraja, L. Marshall, A. Sharma, H. Moradkhani, Water Resour. Res. 52, 3350 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. A. Petersen-Øverleir, T. Reitan, J. Hydrol. 311, 188 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. W.H. Press, B.P. Flannery, S.A. Teukolsky, W.T. Vetterling, Numerical Recipes in Fortran 77: The Art of Scientific Computing, 2nd edn. (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1992)Google Scholar
  77. A. Rafieeinasab, D.-J. Seo, H. Lee, S. Kim, J. Hydrol. 519(Part D), 2663 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. O. Rakovec, P. Hazenberg, P.J.J.F. Torfs, A.H. Weerts, R. Uijlenhoet, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 16, 3419 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. O. Rakovec, A.H. Weerts, J. Sumihar, R. Uijlenhoet, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 19, 2911 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. O. Rakovec, R. Kumar, J. Mai, M. Cuntz, S. Thober, M. Zink, S. Attinger, D. Schäfer, M. Schrön, L. Samaniego, J. Hydrometeorol. 17, 287 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. A. Randrianasolo, G. Thirel, M.H. Ramos, E. Martin, J. Hydrol. 519(Part D), 2676 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. S. Ravela, K. Emanuel, D. McLaughlin, Phys. Nonlinear Phenom. 230, 127 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. J.T. Reager, B.F. Thomas, J.S. Famiglietti, Nat. Geosci. 7, 588 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. B. Ristic, S. Arulampalam, N. Gordon, Beyond the Kalman Filter: Particle Filters for Tracking Applications (Artech House, Boston, 2004)Google Scholar
  85. P. Sakov, G. Evensen, and L. Bertino, Tellus A, 62 (2010)Google Scholar
  86. P. Salamon, L. Feyen, Water Resour. Res. 46, W12501 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. D.-J. Seo, L. Cajina, R. Corby, T. Howieson, J. Hydrol. 367, 255 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. D.-J. Seo and J. P. Breidenbach, J. Hydrometeor 3, 93 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. D.-J. Seo, Y. Liu, H. Moradkhani, A. Weerts, J. Hydrol. 519(Part D), 2661 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. M. Shiiba, T. Takasao, in Proceedings of Third International Symposium on Stochastic Hydraulics, Tokyo, 1980Google Scholar
  91. J. A. Smith and W. F. Krajewski, J. Appl. Meteor. 30, 397 (1991)Google Scholar
  92. L. Sun, O. Seidou, I. Nistor, K. Liu, Hydrol. Sci. J. 61, 2348 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. N. Tangdamrongsub, S.C. Steele-Dunne, B.C. Gunter, P.G. Ditmar, A.H. Weerts, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 19, 2079 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. J. Tao, D. Wu, J. Gourley, S.Q. Zhang, W. Crow, C. Peters-Lidard, A.P. Barros, J. Hydrol. 541(Part A), 434 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. G. Thirel, E. Martin, J.-F. Mahfouf, S. Massart, S. Ricci, F. Habets, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 14, 1623 (2010a)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. G. Thirel, E. Martin, J.-F. Mahfouf, S. Massart, S. Ricci, F. Regimbeau, F. Habets, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 14, 1639 (2010b)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. M.J. Tourian, C. Schwatke, N. Sneeuw, J. Hydrol. 546, 230 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. J.A. Vrugt, C.J.F. ter Braak, C.G.H. Diks, G. Schoups, Adv. Water Resour. 51, 457 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. N. Wanders, D. Karssenberg, A. de Roo, S.M. de Jong, M.F.P. Bierkens, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 18, 2343 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. C.-H. Wang, Y.-L. Bai, J. Hydrol. Eng. 13, 290 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. A.H. Weerts, G.Y.H. El Serafy, Water Resour. Res. 42, 1 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. A.H. Weerts, D.-J. Seo, M. Werner, J. Schaake, Applied Uncertainty Analysis for Flood Risk Management (Imperial College Press, London, 2013)Google Scholar
  103. I. Westerberg, J.-L. Guerrero, J. Seibert, K.J. Beven, S. Halldin, Hydrol. Process. 25, 603 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. E.F. Wood, A. Szöllösi-Nagy, Water Resour. Res. 14, 577 (1978)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. X. Xie, D. Zhang, Water Resour. Res. 49, 7350 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. H. Yan, H. Moradkhani, Adv. Water Resour. 94, 364 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  107. K. Yan, G. Di Baldassarre, D.P. Solomatine, G.J.-P. Schumann, Hydrol. Process. 29, 3368 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  108. M. Zupanski, Mon. Weather Rev. 133, 1710 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seong Jin Noh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Albrecht H. Weerts
    • 2
    • 3
  • Oldrich Rakovec
    • 4
    • 6
  • Haksu Lee
    • 7
  • Dong-Jun Seo
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringThe University of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Operational Water ManagementInland Water Systems, DeltaresDelftThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Hydrology and Quantative Water Management GroupWageningen University and ResearchWageningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.Department of Civil EngineeringThe University of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA
  6. 6.Faculty of Environmental SciencesCzech University of Life SciencesPragueCzech Republic
  7. 7.National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationSilver SpringUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Hamid Moradkhani
    • 1
  • Albrecht Weerts
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Civil & Environmental EngineeringPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Inland Water SystemsDeltaresThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations