A calibrated, watershed-specific SCS-CN method: Application to Wangjiaqiao watershed in the three Gorges Area, China

Lloyd Ling, Zulkifli Yusop, Wun She Yap, Wei Lun Tan, Ming Fai Chow, Joan Lucille Ling

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The Soil Conservation Service curve number (SCS-CN) method is one of the most popular methods used to compute runoff amount due to its few input parameters. However, recent studies challenged the inconsistent runoff results obtained by the method which set the initial abstraction ratio λ as 0.20. This paper developed a watershed-specific SCS-CN calibration method using non-parametric inferential statistics with rainfall-runoff data pairs. The proposed method first analyzed the data and generated confidence intervals to determine the optimum values for SCS-CN model calibration. Subsequently, the runoff depth and curve number were calculated. The proposed method outperformed the runoff prediction accuracy of the asymptotic curve number fitting method, linear regression model and the conventional SCS-CN model with the highest Nash-Sutcliffe index value of 0.825, the lowest residual sum of squares value of 133.04 and the lowest prediction error. It reduced the residual sum of squares by 66% and the model prediction errors by 96% when compared to the conventional SCS-CN model. The estimated curve number was 72.28, with the confidence interval ranging from 62.06 to 78.00 at a 0.01 confidence interval level for the Wangjiaqiao watershed in China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology

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