Alternative CN Averaging Methods for Determining the Representative CN of a Watershed Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers. A representative curve number (CN) of a catchment is often calculated from the area-weighted average of CN values of unique land use and soil combinations. While convenient for implementation, this method is known to underestimate direct runoffdepth. This paper investigates the mathematical mechanism of the expected underestimation and proposes alternative CN averaging methods called the quadratic and exact averaging methods, to handle the underestimation problem. Results suggest that the quadratic method could reduce the level of underestimation in direct runoffdepth; further, the exact method could provide the same direct runoffdepth as that of the areaweighted direct runoffdepth averaging method. A representative CN is found to be a function of rainfall size and catchment landscape, and the underestimation is relatively large for small and mid-sized storm events. The improvement in runoffestimation with the newly proposed averaging methods is particularly beneficial to stormwater management, flood controls, and erosion controls upon small return-period events.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Her, Y., Seong, C., & Jeong, J.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Her, Younggu||Seong, Chounghyun||Jeong, Jaehak

publication date

  • June 2016