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Hydrograph separation and development of empirical relationships using single-parameter digital filters

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2009, 00:00 authored by S Tan, E Lo, E Shuy, Lloyd ChuaLloyd Chua, W Lim
A reliable hydrograph separation method is necessary for surface runoff modeling and hydrological studies. This paper investigates and compares the separation characteristics of two single-parameter digital filters, which are herein referred to as the one-parameter algorithm and the conceptual method. The application of the one-parameter algorithm was found to be restricted to low and medium baseflow separations, with a maximum separation limit of 50% of the total runoff hydrograph. The one-parameter algorithm was also observed to produce unrealistic sharp peaks under the peaks of the measured hydrograph when recession constant is smaller than 0.96. On the other hand, the conceptual method is applicable even for catchments fed largely by groundwater discharge. However, a reliable estimation of recession constant is a prerequisite for applying the conceptual method for large baseflow separations. Based on the hydrograph separation results, useful empirical relationships were developed for a partially urbanized watershed to estimate total runoff and direct runoff from the measured rainfall depth. The relationships between rainfall depth and total runoff depth and rainfall depth and direct runoff depth were found to be well represented by linear equations. The empirical relationships were then applied to estimate the long-term contribution of baseflow and surface runoff to total runoff at the study site. Baseflow was found to contribute about 58–61% of the annual total runoff.



Journal of hydrologic engineering






271 - 279


American Society of Civil Engineers


Reston, Va.





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2009, American Society of Civil Engineers