Evaluation of the Adequacy of Statistical Distribution Functions for Deriving Unit Hydrograph Academic Article uri icon


  • The unit hydrograph (UH) is one of the commonly employed techniques for the determination of flood hydrographs. Since the UH satisfies all the properties of a probability distribution function (PDF), it seems logical that PDFs can be employed for deriving the UH. In practice, the gamma distribution function has been commonly employed to derive the UH. In this paper, Beta (Beta), Exponential (EXP), Gamma (GM), Normal, Lognormal (LN), Weibull (WB), Logistic (LG), Generalized logistic (GLG) and Pearson Type 3 (PT 3) distribution functions were employed for the derivation of UH. Parameters of these distribution functions were estimated using the real coded genetic algorithm optimization technique. These distributions were tested on the 13 watersheds of different characteristics and it was observed that except for the EXP distribution function, most other distribution functions produced UHs which were in satisfactory agreement with observed UHs. However, three-parameter distributions GLG, PT 3 and two parameter LG were not capable of reproducing UHs for large watersheds having drainage areas of 3,360 and 4,300 km 2 . For such large watersheds WB reproduced UHs satisfactorily. Combining the overall performance of the distributions over 13 watersheds, the order of ranking the suitability of distributions were as: GM > PT 3 > Beta ≥ GLG ≥ LN > WB. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008.

author list (cited authors)

  • Rai, R. K., Sarkar, S., & Singh, V. P.

citation count

  • 27

publication date

  • March 2009