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Synthetic Unit Hydrographs

All the methods of deriving a UH discussed previously require


observations of rainfall and runoff. However, for some drainage basins
rain gages and/ or streams flow gages are not, therefore, rainfall
runoff data are not available. For those basins, some kind of
techniques to generate UH (without using rainfall runoff records) is
needed. The UH so derived is called synthetic UH.

Three types of synthetic UHs:


(1) those relate hydrograph characteristics (peak discharge, time base,
time-to-peak, etc.) to basin characteristics;
(2) those based on dimensionless UH; and those based on models of
watershed storage.

UH

Snyders Method - 1

Study area: US Appalachian highlands. 10 ~ 10,000 mi2 (30 ~30,000


km2)
Properties characterizes the response of watershed under various
rainfall inputs:
(a) Duration of rainfall excess;
(b) Lag time;
(c) Time base of UH;
(d) Time to peak;
(e) Peak discharge of UH;
(f) Shape of UH.

UH

Snyders Method - 2
Snyders method allows the computations of
(a) lag time (tL);
(b) UH duration (tr);
(c) UH peak discharge (qp);
(d) Hydrograph time width at 50% and 75% (W 50, W75) of peak flow

UH

Snyders Method - 3
1. Lag time (tL): time from the center of rainfall excess to the UH peak
tL = C1Ct (LLc)0.3
where tL = Time [hrs]; C1 = 0.75 for SI unit; 1.0 for English unit; Ct =
Coefficient which is a function of watershed slope and shape, 1.8~2.2
(for steeper slope, Ct is smaller); L = length of the main channel [mi,
km]; Lc = length along the main channel to the point nearest to the
watershed centroid

UH

Snyders Method - 4
2. UH Duration (tr):
tr = tL / 5.5
where tr and tL are in [hrs]. If the duration of UH is other than t r, then the lag
time needs to be adjusted as
tpL = tL + 0.25 (tR - tr)
where tLR = adjusted lag time; tR = desired UH duration.
3. UH Peak Discharge (qp):

C C
C C
2 p
2 p
q
q
p
p
t
t
p
pR
where C2 = 2.75 for SI unit; 640 for English unit; C p = coefficient accounting
for flood wave and storage condition, 0.4 ~ 0.8;
qp = specific discharge,
[m3/s/km2] or [ft3/s/mi2]
To compute actual discharge, Qp = Aqp
or

UH

Snyders Method - 5
4. Time Base (tb):
Assuming triangular UH,
tb = C3 / qp
where tb [hrs]; C3 = 5.56 for SI unit, 1290 for English unit.
C
C
w,75
w,50
W

5. UH Widths:
or
75
50
1.08
q1.08
q
p
p
where
CW, 75 = 1.22 for SI unit; 440 for English unit;
CW, 50 = 2.14 for SI unit; 770 for English unit;.
W50, W75 are in hours; Usually, 1/3 of the width is distributed before UH
peak and 2/3 after the peak
Remember to check that the volume of UH is close to 1 cm or 1 inch
UH

Snyders
Method Example

UH

SCS
Dimensionless
UH

UH

SCS Dimensionless UH

UH

Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph (IUH)


applied

Let the duration of a t-hr UH go to infinitesimally small, that is, t 0, the


resulting UH is called the IUH.
IUH of a drainage basin results from 1 unit (1 cm or 1 ) of effective rainfall
to the watershed in zero time.

1. The advantage of IUH is that no reference with respect to duration is needed.


2. Suppose we have a 1-hr S-curve, the dt-hr UH can be obtained by
S(t) S(t dt)
dt
By letting dt 0, the resulting UH is called IUH. In other words, IUH can be
obtained from find the slope of 1-hr S-curve, i.e.,

IUH(t) = dS(t) / dt
where S(t) = 1-hr S-curve
UH

HK WSD 15-min Dimensionless UH


Dimensionless discharge: Q = Q(Lag+tr/2)/V
Dimensionless time: t= 100 t / (Lag+tr/2)
where V = surface runoff from 1 of rainfall excess (in ft 3);
Lag = basin lag time (min)
= time between the centroids of rainfall excess
and runoff hydrograph
=1.47 A0.54 with A = basin area (acres);
tr = 15min

15 min
1

Lag

UH

HK WSD 15-min Dimensionless UH


Q ' exp[4.409 00758 t ' 0.0001078 t '2 ,
1.3093 0.03608 t ' ,

for

44.6 t ' 64

80393.76 63.38 t ' 0.006547t '2.5


2.6385 0.02 t ' ,

for 0 t ' 44.6

437648.32
ln(t ' )
441337.84
, for 64 t ' 81.7
ln(t ' )
t'

for 81.7 t ' 100

0.2408 0.0032 t '0.0004326 t ' ln(t ' )

4809.207
8.651 exp[41 t ' ], for 100 t ' 513.3
t '2

Dimensionless Discharge
(Q')

HK Dimensionless 15-min UH
1.1
1.0
0.9
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0.0
0

50

100

150

200 250

300 350

Dimensionless T ime (t')

UH

400 450

500