Influence of river channel geometry in stream flow modelling and guidelines for field investigation

Hongbo Zhang, Fan Zhang, Xiaonan Shi, Chen Zeng, Dong Sin Shih, Gour Tsyh Yeh, Daniel R. Joswiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Fully physics-based, process-level, distributed fluid flow and reactive transport hydrological models are rarely used in practice until recent years. These models are useful tools to help understand the fundamental physical, chemical, and biological processes that take place in nature. In this study, sensitivity analyses based on a mountain area river basin modelling study are performed to investigate the effect of river channel geometric characteristics on downstream water flow. Numerical experiments show that reduction in the river channel geometric measurement interval may not significantly affect the downstream water stage simulation as long as measurement accuracy at special nodes is guaranteed. The special upstream nodes include but are not limited to 1) nodes located close to the observation station, 2) nodes near the borders of different land covers with considerable riverbed roughness changes, 3) nodes at entering points of tributaries causing discharge jump and 4) nodes with a narrow cross-section width that may control the flow conditions. This information provides guidelines for field investigation to efficiently obtain necessary geometric data for physics-based hydrological modelling. It is especially useful in alpine areas such as the Tibetan Plateau where field investigation capability is limited under severe topography and climate condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2630-2638
Number of pages9
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2014


  • Distributed hydrological model
  • River channel geometry
  • Sensitivity analyses
  • Tibetan Plateau


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