The Use of Asymptotic Functions for Determining Empirical Values of CN Parameter in Selected Catchments of Variable Land Cover

Open access


The aim of the study was to assess the applicability of asymptotic functions for determining the value of CN parameter as a function of precipitation depth in mountain and upland catchments. The analyses were carried out in two catchments: the Rudawa, left tributary of the Vistula, and the Kamienica, right tributary of the Dunajec. The input material included data on precipitation and flows for a multi-year period 1980–2012, obtained from IMGW PIB in Warsaw. Two models were used to determine empirical values of CNobs parameter as a function of precipitation depth: standard Hawkins model and 2-CN model allowing for a heterogeneous nature of a catchment area.

The study analyses confirmed that asymptotic functions properly described P-CNobs relationship for the entire range of precipitation variability. In the case of high rainfalls, CNobs remained above or below the commonly accepted average antecedent moisture conditions AMCII. The study calculations indicated that the runoff amount calculated according to the original SCS-CN method might be underestimated, and this could adversely affect the values of design flows required for the design of hydraulic engineering projects. In catchments with heterogeneous land cover, the results of CNobs were more accurate when 2-CN model was used instead of the standard Hawkins model. 2-CN model is more precise in accounting for differences in runoff formation depending on retention capacity of the substrate. It was also demonstrated that the commonly accepted initial abstraction coefficient λ = 0.20 yielded too big initial loss of precipitation in the analyzed catchments and, therefore, the computed direct runoff was underestimated. The best results were obtained for λ = 0.05.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • [1] Ajmal M. Waseem M. Wi S. Kim T.-W. Evolution of a parsimonious rainfall–runoff model using soil moisture proxies. J. of Hydrology 2015 530 623–633.

  • [2] Baltas E.A. Dervos N.A. Mimikou M.A. Technical Note: Determination of the SCS initial abstraction ratio in an experimental watershed in Greece Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 2007 11 1825–1829.

  • [3] Banasik K. Woodward D.E. Empirical determination of runoff Curve Number for a small agriculture catchment in Poland Proceedings of the 2nd Joint Federal Interagency Conference Las Vegas NV USA 27 June–1 July 2010.

  • [4] Banasik K. Rutkowska A. Kohnová S. Retention and Curve Number Variability in a Small Agricultural Catchment: The Probabilistic Approach Water 2014a 6 1118–1133.

  • [5] Banasik K. Krajewski A. Sikorska A. Hejduk L. Curve Number estimation for a small urban catchment from recorded rainfall-runoff events Archives of Environmental Protection 2014b 40(3) 75–86.

  • [6] Chauhan M.S. Kumar V. Rahul A.K. Modelling and quantifying water use efficiency for irrigation project and water supply at large scale Int. J. Adv. Sci. Tech. Res. 2013 3 617–639.

  • [7] Chen C.L. An evaluation of the mathematics and physical significance of the Soil Conservation Service curve number procedure for estimating runoff volume Proc. Int. Symp. on Rainfall-Runoff Modeling Water Resources Publ. Littleton Colo. 1982 387–418.

  • [8] Deshmukh D.S. Chaube U.C. Hailu A.E. Gudeta D.A. Kassa M.T. Estimation and comparison of curve numbers based on dynamic land use land cover change observed rainfall-runoff data and land slope J. Hydrol. 2013 492 89–101.

  • [9] De Paola F. Ranucci A. Feo A. Antecedent moisture condition (SCS) frequency assessment: A case study in southern Italy Irrig. Drain. 2013 62 61–71.

  • [10] Epps T.H. Hitchcock D.R. Jayakaran A.D. Loflin D.R. Williams T.M Amatya D.M. Curve Number derivation for watersheds draining two headwater streams in lower coastal plain South Carolina USA. J. of American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 2013 49(6) 1284–1295.

  • [11] Hawkins R.H. Asymptotic determination of Curve Numbers from data Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Division 1993 119(2) 334–345.

  • [12] Hawkins R.H. Jiang R. Woodward D.E. Hjelmfelt A.T. Van Mullem J.A. Quan Q.D. Runoff Curve Number Method: Examination of the Initial Abstraction Ratio Proceedings of the Second Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference Las Vegas Nevada U.S. Geological Survey Lakewood Colorado ASCE Publications 2002.

  • [13] King K.W. Balogh J.C. Curve numbers for golf course watersheds American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers 2008 51(3) 987–996.

  • [14] Kowalik T. Wałęga A. Estimation of CN Parameter for Small Agricultural Watersheds Using Asymptotic Functions Water 2015 7(3) 939–955.

  • [15] Krzanowski S. Miler A.T. Walega A. The effect of moisture conditions on estimation of the CN parameter value in the mountain catchment Infrastruct. Ecol. Rural Areas 2013 3 105–117 (in Polish).

  • [16] Malone R.W. Yagow G. Baffaut C. Gitau M.W. Qi Z. Amatya D.M. Parajuli P.B. Bonta J.V. Green T.R. Parameterization guidelines and considerations for hydrologic models Transaction of the ASABE 2015 58(6) 1681–1703.

  • [17] Michel C. Vazken A. Perrin C. Soil conservation service curve number method: how to mend a wrong soil moisture accounting procedure Journal of Water Resources Research 2005 41 1–6.

  • [18] Mishra S.K. Singh V.P. SCS-CN-based hydrologic simulation package [in:] V.P. Singh D.K. Frevert (Eds.) Mathematical Models of Small Watershed Hydrology and Applications Water Resources Publs. LLC Highlands Ranch 2002 391–464.

  • [19] Mishra S.K. Singh V.P. Long-term hydrological simulation based on the Soil Conservation Service curve number J. Hydrol. Process. 2004 18 1291–1313.

  • [20] Nash J.E. Sutcliffe J.V. River flow forecasting through conceptual models. Part I – a discussion of principles J. of Hydrol. 1970 10(3) 282–290.

  • [21] Ponce V.M. Engineering Hydrology: Principles and Practices Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River New Jersey 1989.

  • [22] Ponce V.M. Hawkins R.H. Runoff curve number: Has it reached maturity? J. Hydrol. Eng. 1996 1(1) 11–19.

  • [23] Rallison R.E. Miller N. Past present and future SCS runoff procedure. In: Rainfall-runoff relationship Proc. of the International Symphosium on Rainfall-Runoff Modelling Missisipi Missisipi State University 18–21 May 1981 353–364.

  • [24] Ritter A. Muñoz-Carpena R. Performance evaluation of hydrological models: statistical significance for reducing subjectivity in goodness-of-fit assessments J. of Hydrol. 2013 480 33–45.

  • [25] Rutkowska A. Kohnová S. Banasik K. Szolgay J. Karabowá B. Probabilistic properties of a curve number: A case study for small Polish and Slovak Carpathian Basins Journal of Mountain Science 2015 12(3) 533–548.

  • [26] Sahu R.K. Mishra S.K. Eldho T.I. Performance evaluation of modified versions of SCS curve number method for two watersheds of Maharashtra India ISH J. Hydraul. Eng. 2012 18(1) 27–36.

  • [27] Soulis K.X. Valiantzas J.D. SCS-CN parameter determination using rainfall-runoff data in heterogeneous watersheds – the two-CN system approach Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 2012 16 1001–101.

  • [28] Soulis K.X. Valiantzas J.D. Identification of the SCS-CN Parameter Spatial Distribution Using Rainfall-Runoff Data in Heterogeneous Watersheds Water Resour Manage 2012 27 1737–1749.

  • [29] USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Hydrology [in:] National Engineering Handbook; USDA Soil Conservation Service: Washington DC USA 2004 Chapter 9.

  • [30] Wałęga A. Rutkowska A. Usefulness of the Modified NRCS-CN Method for the Assessment of Direct Runoff in a Mountain Catchment Acta Geophysica 2015 63(5) 1423–1446.

  • [31] Wałęga A. Michalec B. Cupak A. Grzebinoga M. Comparison of SCS-CN Determination Methodologies in a Heterogeneous Catchment Journal of Mountain Science 2015 12(5) 1084–1094.

  • [32] Woodward D.E. Hawkins R.H. Jiang R. Hjelmfelt A.T. Jr. Van Mullem J.A. Quan D.Q. Runoff Curve Number Method: Examination of the Initial Abstraction Ratio World Water and Environ. Resour. Congress and Related Symposia EWRI ASCE 23–26 June 2003 Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA.

  • [33] Ven Te Chow Maidment D.K. Mays L.W. Applied of Hydrology McGraw Hill Book Company New York 1988.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 1.03

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.213
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.106

Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 786 84 2
PDF Downloads 134 43 0