Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31200
Application of an Analytical Model to Obtain Daily Flow Duration Curves for Different Hydrological Regimes in Switzerland

Authors: Ana Clara Santos, Maria Manuela Portela, Bettina Schaefli


This work assesses the performance of an analytical model framework to generate daily flow duration curves, FDCs, based on climatic characteristics of the catchments and on their streamflow recession coefficients. According to the analytical model framework, precipitation is considered to be a stochastic process, modeled as a marked Poisson process, and recession is considered to be deterministic, with parameters that can be computed based on different models. The analytical model framework was tested for three case studies with different hydrological regimes located in Switzerland: pluvial, snow-dominated and glacier. For that purpose, five time intervals were analyzed (the four meteorological seasons and the civil year) and two developments of the model were tested: one considering a linear recession model and the other adopting a nonlinear recession model. Those developments were combined with recession coefficients obtained from two different approaches: forward and inverse estimation. The performance of the analytical framework when considering forward parameter estimation is poor in comparison with the inverse estimation for both, linear and nonlinear models. For the pluvial catchment, the inverse estimation shows exceptional good results, especially for the nonlinear model, clearing suggesting that the model has the ability to describe FDCs. For the snow-dominated and glacier catchments the seasonal results are better than the annual ones suggesting that the model can describe streamflows in those conditions and that future efforts should focus on improving and combining seasonal curves instead of considering single annual ones.

Keywords: Stochastic Process, Hydrological Modelling, analytical streamflow distribution, linear and non-linear recession, daily discharges

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 384


[1] R. M. Vogel and N. M. Fennessey, “Flow-duration curves i: New interpretation and confidence intervals,” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, vol. 120, no. 4, pp. 485–504, jul 1994.
[2] A. Castellarin, G. Botter, D. A. Hughes, S. Liu, T. B. M. J. Ouarda, J. Parajka, D. A. Post, M. Sivapalan, C. Spence, A. Viglione et al., “Prediction of flow duration curves in ungauged basins,” Runoff prediction in ungauged basins: Synthesis across processes, places and scales, pp. 135–162, 2013.
[3] G. Botter, A. Porporato, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, and A. Rinaldo, “Basin-scale soil moisture dynamics and the probabilistic characterization of carrier hydrologic flows: Slow, leaching-prone components of the hydrologic response,” Water Resources Research, vol. 43, no. 2, 2007, w02417.
[4] ——, “Nonlinear storage-discharge relations and catchment streamflow regimes,” Water Resources Research, vol. 45, no. 10, 2009.
[5] B. Schaefli, A. Rinaldo, and G. Botter, “Analytic probability distributions for snow-dominated streamflow,” Water Resources Research, vol. 49, no. 5, pp. 2701–2713, 2013.
[6] A. Mej´ıa, E. Daly, F. Rossel, T. Jovanovic, and J. Giron´as, “A stochastic model of streamflow for urbanized basins,” Water Resources Research, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 1984–2001, 2014.
[7] M. F. M¨uller, D. N. Dralle, and S. E. Thompson, “Analytical model for flow duration curves in seasonally dry climates,” Water Resources Research, vol. 50, no. 7, pp. 5510–5531, 2014.
[8] S. Basso, M. Schirmer, and G. Botter, “On the emergence of heavy-tailed streamflow distributions,” Advances in Water Resources, vol. 82, pp. 98–105, 2015.
[9] G. Botter, S. Basso, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, and A. Rinaldo, “Resilience of river flow regimes,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 110, no. 32, pp. 12 925–12 930, 2013.
[10] S. Ceola, G. Botter, E. Bertuzzo, A. Porporato, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, and A. Rinaldo, “Comparative study of ecohydrological streamflow probability distributions,” Water Resources Research, vol. 46, no. 9, 2010.
[11] G. Botter, A. Porporato, E. Daly, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, and A. Rinaldo, “Probabilistic characterization of base flows in river basins: Roles of soil, vegetation, and geomorphology,” Water Resources Research, vol. 43, no. 6, 2007.
[12] A. C. Santos, M. M. Portela, A. Rinaldo, and B. Schaefli, “Analytical flow duration curves for summer streamflow in switzerland,” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 2377–2389, 2018.
[13] A. C. Santos, M. M. Portela, and B. Schaefli, “Application of an analytical model to obtain daily flow duration curves in portugal,” APRH, Ed.
[14] I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, A. Porporato, L. Ridolfi, V. Isham, and D. R. Coxi, “Probabilistic modelling of water balance at a point: the role of climate, soil and vegetation,” Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, vol. 455, no. 1990, pp. 3789–3805, 1999.
[15] G. Botter, F. Peratoner, A. Porporato, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, and A. Rinaldo, “Signatures of large-scale soil moisture dynamics on streamflow statistics across u.s. climate regimes,” Water Resources Research, vol. 43, no. 11, 2007.
[16] G. Botter, S. Zanardo, A. Porporato, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, and A. Rinaldo, “Ecohydrological model of flow duration curves and annual minima,” Water Resources Research, vol. 44, no. 8, 2008.
[17] A. M. J. Gerrits, The role of interception in the hydrological cycle. TU Delft, Delft University of Technology, 2010.
[18] D. Dralle, N. J. Karst, K. Charalampous, A. Veenstra, and S. E. Thompson, “Event-scale power law recession analysis: quantifying methodological uncertainty,” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 65–81, jan 2017.
[19] B. Biswal and M. Marani, “Geomorphological origin of recession curves,” Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 37, no. 24, 2010.
[20] R. Mutzner, E. Bertuzzo, P. Tarolli, S. V. Weijs, L. Nicotina, S. Ceola, N. Tomasic, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, M. B. Parlange, and A. Rinaldo, “Geomorphic signatures on brutsaert base flow recession analysis,” Water Resources Research, vol. 49, no. 9, pp. 5462–5472, 2013.
[21] FOEN. (2017) Hydrological data and forecasts. Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Bern, Switzerland.
[Online]. Available:
[22] MeteoSwiss, “Daily precipitation (final analysis): Rhiresd,” 2014.
[23] A. Aschwanden, “Caract´eristiques physiographiques des bassins de recherches hydrologiques en suisse,” 1996.