A weighted, multi-method approach for accurate basin-wide streamflow estimation in an ungauged watershed

Christopher L. Shope, Svenja Bartsch, Kiyong Kim, Bomchul Kim, John Tenhunen, Stefan Peiffer, Ji Hyung Park, Yong Sik Ok, Jan Fleckenstein, Thomas Koellner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


River discharge is a commonly measured hydrologic variable; however, estimate uncertainty is often higher than acceptable limits. To quantify method limitations and spatiotemporal variability, a multi-year hydrologic flow partitioning investigation was completed under monsoonal conditions in the ungauged complex terrain of the Haean Catchment, South Korea. Our results indicate that sediment transport from a single annual monsoonal event can significantly modify the channel cross-sectional area resulting in inaccurate stage-discharge rating curves. We compare six discharge measurement methods at 13 locations that vary in slope from 1% to 80%, with discharge ranging up to four orders in magnitude, which enabled us to weight the accuracy of each method over a specific range in discharge. The most accurate discharge estimation methods are the weir, the acoustic Doppler current profiler, and the in-stream velocity area method; however, under certain conditions each of these methods is less desirable than other methods. The uncertainty in the three methods is on average 0.4%, 4.7%, and 6.1% of the total discharge, respectively. The accuracy of the discharge estimates has a direct influence on the characterization of basin-wide hydrologic partitioning, which can lead to significant variability in sediment erosion rates and nutrient fate and transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-82
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun 8
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support from the Interdisciplinary Research Project TERRECO funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the University of Bayreuth is greatly acknowledged. We appreciate the field assistance provided by Jaesung Eum, Axel Müller, and the students of the TERRECO International Research and Training Group. The isotope abundance analysis and contributions of the BayCEER Laboratory of Isotope Biogeochemistry at the University of Bayreuth is greatly appreciated. This manuscript was substantially improved by the technical review and contributions of the editor, Geoff Syme, two anonymous reviewers, and Jeanne Riley.


  • Baseflow
  • Discharge
  • Korea
  • River
  • Topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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