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Edited by A.A.


A contribution to the International Hydrological Decade

The Unesco Press Paris 1974

Studies and reports in hydrology 17

1. The use of analog and digital computers in hydrology: Proceedings of the Tucson Sympo-
sium, June 1966 / Lutilisation des calculatrices analogiques et des ordinateurs en hydro-
logic: Act(= d u colloque de Tucson, juin 1966. Vol. 1 & 2. Co-edition IAHS-Unesco /
Coddition .4ISH-Unesco.
2. Water in the unsaturated zone: Proceedings of the Wageningen Symposium, June 1967 /
Leau dans la zone non saturee: Actes du symposium de Wageningen, juin 1967. Edited
by /edit& par P.E. Rijtema &H.Wassink. Vol. 1 &2. Co-edition IAHS-Unesco / Coddition
A I S H -Unesco.
3. Floods and their computation: Proceedings of the Leningrad Symposium, August 1967 /
Les crues et leur evaluation :Actes du colloque de Leningrad, aoDt 1967. Vol. 1 & 2.
Co-edition I A H S -Unesco-W M O / Coddition AISH-Unesco-OMM.
,4.Representative and experimental basins: A n international guide for research and practice.
Edited by C.Toebes and V. Ouryvaev. Published by Unesco.
4. Les bassins representatifs et experimentaux :Guide international des pratiques en matiere
de recherche. Publie sous la direction de C. Toebes et V. Ouryvaev. Publid par IUnesco.
5. *Discharge of selected rivers of the world / Debit de certain cours deau du monde.
Jublished by Unesco I Publid par I Unesco.
Vol. I: General and regime characteristics of stations selected / Caracteristiques gene-
rales et caracteristiques du regime des stations choisies.
Vol. 11: Monthly and annual discharges recorded at various selected stations (from start
ofobservationsup to 1964) / Debits mensuels et annuels enregistres en diverses stations
selectiocnkes (de lorigine des observations a Iannk 1964).
Vol. 111: M e a n monthly and extreme discharges (1965-1969) / Debits mensuels moyens
et debits extremes (1965-1969). t v.E pt 3 .
6. List of International Hydrological Decade Stations of the world / Liste des stations de la
Decennie hydrologique internationale existant dans le monde. Published by Unesco /Publid
par IUnesco.
7. Ground-water studies: A n international guide for practice. Edited by R. Brown, J. Ineson,
V. Konoplyantsev and V. Kovalevski. (Willalso appear in French, Russian and Spanish /
Paraitra egalement en espagnol, en francais et en russe.)
8. Land subsidence: Proceedings of the Tokyo Symposium, September 1969 / Affaisement du
sol :Actes du colloque de Tokyo, septembre 1969. Vol. 1 &2. Co-edition IAHS-Unesco /
Coddition A I S H -Unesco.
.9. Hydrology of deltas: Proceedings of the Bucharest Symposium, M a y 1969 / Hydrologie des
deltas :Actes du colloque de Bucarest, mai 1969. Vol. 1 &2. Co-edition IAHS-Unesco /
Coddition A I S H -Unesco.
10. Status and trends of research in hydrology / Bilan et tendances de la recherche en hydro-
logie. Published by Unesco / Publid par I Unesco.
11. World water balance: Proceedings of the Reading Symposium, July 1970 / Bilan hydrique
6) mondial :Actes du colloque de Reading, juillet 1970. Vol. 1-3. Co-edition IAHS-Unesco-
W M O / Coddition AISH-Unesco-OMM.
12. Results of research on representative and experimental basins: Proceedings of the Wellington
Symposium, December 1970 / RCsultats de recherches sur les bassins representatifs et
experimentaux :Actes du colloque de Wellington, dbembre 1970. Vol. 1 & 2. Co-edition
I A H S -Unesco / CoPdition AISH-Unesco.
13. Hydrometry: Proceedings of the Koblenz Symposium, September 1970/ Hydromktrie: Actes
d u colloque decoblence,septembre 1970. Co-edition I A H S -Unesco-W M O / Coddition A I S H
14. Hydrologic information systems. Co-edition Unesco-WMO.
15. Mathematical models in hydrology: Proceedings of the Warsaw Symposium, July 1971/
Les modbles mathematiques en hydrologie : Actes du colloque de Varsovie, juillet 1971.
Vol. 1-3. Co-edition IAHS-Unesco-W M O / Coddition AISH-Unesco-OMM.
16. Design of water resources projects with inadequate data: Proceedings of the Madrid Sym-
posium, June 1973 / elaboration des projets dutilisation des resources en eau sans donnCes
sufisantes :Actes du colloque de Madrid, juin 1973. Vol. 1-3. Co-edition U n e s c o - W M O -
I A H S / Coddition U n e s c o - O M M - A I S H .
17. Methods for water balance computations. A n international guide for research and practice.
Published by Unesco.
The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the
expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the publishers concerning the legal status of any
country or territory, or of its authorities. or concerning the frontiers of any country or territory.

Published by
The Unesco Press
Place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris

Printed by Beugnet, Paris

ISBN 92-3-101227-4
0 Unesco 1974
Printed in France

The International Hydrological Decade (IHD) 1965-74 was launched by

the thirteenth session of the General Conference of Unesco to pro-
mote international co-operation in research and studies and the
training of specialists and technicians in scientific hydrology.
Its purpose is to enable all countries to make a fuller assessment
of their water resources and a more rational use of them as man's
demands for water constantly increase in face of developments in
population, industry and agriculture. In 1974 National Committees
for the Decade had been formed in 108 of Unesco's 132 Member States
to carry out national activities and to contribute to regional and
international activities within the programme of the Decade. The
implementation of the programme is supervised by a Co-ordinating
Council, composed of thirty Member States selected by the General
Conference of Unesco, which studies proposals for developments of
the programme, recommends projects of interest to all or a large
number of countries, assists in the development of national and
regional proj ec ts and co-ordinates interna t ional co-opera t ion.
Promotion of collaboration in developing hydrological research
techniques, diffusing hydrological data and planning hydrological
installations is a major feature of the programme of the IHD which
encompasses all aspects of hydrological studies and research.
Hydrological investigations are encouraged at the national, region-
al and international levels to strengthen and to improve the use of
natural resources from a local and a global perspective. The pro-
gramme provides a means for countries well advanced in hydrological
research to exchange scientific views and for developing countries
to benefit from this exchange of information in elaborating research
projects and in implementing recent developments in the planning of
hydrological installations.
As part of Unesco's contribution to the achievement of the ob-
jectives of the IHD the General Conference authorized the Director-
General to collect, exchange and disseminate information concerning
research on scientific hydrology and to facilitate contacts between
research workers in this field. To this end Unesco has initiated
two collections of publications, 'Studies and Reports in Hydrology'
and 'Technical Papers in Hydrology'.
The collection 'Studies and Reports in Hydrology', is aimed at
recording data collected and the main results of hydrological
studies undertaken within the framework of the Decade as well as
providing information on research techniques. Also included in the
collection will be proceedings of symposia. Thus, the collection
will comprise the compilation of data, discussions of hydrological
research techniques and findings, and guidance material for future
scientific investigations. It is hoped that the volumes will fur-
nish material of both practical and theoretical interest to hydro-
logists and governments participating in the IHD and respgnd to the
needs of technicians and scientists concerned with problems of water
in all countries.

Foreword 11
1. Introduction 13
1.1 Objectives and importance of water balance
studies 13
1.2 Purpose and scope of the report 13
1 3 Terminology 14
1.4 Symbols 14
2. The water balance equation. 17
2,l General form of the water balance equation 17
2.2 Other forms of the water balance equation 17
2.3 Special features of the water balance equation
for different time intervals. 18
2.4 Special features of the water balance equation
for water bodies of different dimensions 18
2.5 Closing of the water balance equation 19
2.6 Units for the components of the water balance
equations. 19
3. Methods of computation of the main water balance
components a 21
3.1 Basic data 21
3.1.1 Maps and atlases 21
3.2 Precipitation 21
3.2.1 General 21
3.2.2 Measurement of precipitation at a point
and correction of measured precipitation. 22
3.2.3 Computatfon of mean precipitation over an
area. 23 lsohyetal maps 23
3 2 -4 Special features. 24
3.3 River runoff. 24
3.3.1 Normal runoff and selection of the water
balance period.
3.3-2 Computation of normal runoff using observational
data 25 Graphical method 25
3.3 2 2 Analytical method 26
3.3.3 Computation of normal runoff without
observational data. 28 Computation of normal runoff from a
map of isolines. 28 Computation of normal runoff by the
analogue method. 39 Computation of normal runoff by the
water and heat balance equation. 30
3.3.4 Maps of runoff isolines. 30
3.3.5 Separation of the runoff hydrograph into
components. 34
3.4 Evaporation. 37
3.4.1 General 37 List of symbols used only for evapor-
ation . 37
Methods /m uylter bahnce compukrtions

3.4.2 Evaporation from water surfaces 39 Computation from evaporimeter
data 39 Water balance method 41 Heat balance method 41 Aerodynamic method 42 Empirical formulae 43 Effect of aquatic plants 46
3.4.3 Evaporation from land 47 Computation from soil evaporimeter
and lysimeter data 47 Measurements of
evaporation from snow
cover by evaporimeters. 47 Water balance method 47 Heat balance method 48 Aerodynamic method 48 Empirical methods 49 The generalized combin-
at ion method. 49 Other empirical methods 50 Methods used in the USSR 53
3.4.4 Maps of evaporation. 55
3.5 Variations of water storage in river basins 55
3.5.1 General 55
3.5.2 Surface water storage. 56
- Detention of water in micro-
depressions. 56 Water storage in the solid state 56 Water volume in lakes and reservoirs 56 Channel storage in a river basin 57
3.5.3 Soil moisture storage 62
3.5.4 Ground water storage 64
4. Variability of the main water balance components and
accuracy of their estlmation. 67
4.1 Variability of main water balance components 67
4.2 Estimation of the accuracy of measurement and
computation of water balance components. 71
5. Water balance of water bodies 75
5.1 River basins 75
5.1.1 General 75
5.1.2 Mean water balance of a river basin 75
5.1.3 Water balance of a river basin for
specific time intervals. 79
5.1.4 Forests and forested basins 81 Forest terrain 81 Forested basins 84
5.1.5 Irrigated and drained land 84 Irrigated land 84 Drained land 87
5.2 Lakes and reservoirs 69
5.3 Swamps 92
Methodsfor water bakznce computations

5.4 Ground-water basins LOO

5.5 Mountain glacier basins, mountain glaciers and
ice shields. 104
5.6 Inland seas. 105
6. Regional water balances 107
6.1 Water balance of countries. 107
6.2 Water balance of continents. 108
7. Water balance of the atmosphere 113
7.1 Main water balance equations 113
7.2 Water balance equation for the atmosphere-soil
system. 113
7.3 Development of the water balance equation for
the atmosphere.
7.3.1 Measurement systems and data sources.
7.3.2 Space scale considerations
7.3.3 Time scale considerations
7.4 Estimation of the terms of the equation for the
atmosphere-soil system. 116
8. Estimation of the rate of water circulation. 117
References 118
In recent years, the scientific and practical importance of water
balance problems has been highlighted by predictions of fresh
water shortages in many areas of the world, due to industrial deve-
lopment, urbanization, and increase in agricultural production. The
study of these problems has therefore been given priority in the
programme of the International Hydrological Decade ( I W ) under the
sponsorship of Unesco. Water balance problems are also the active
concern of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) the Food
and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and other international
governmental and non-governmental organizations.
A Working Group on the World Water Balance (later re-named
the Working Group on Water Balances) was established by the Co-
ordinating Council for the I W at its first session in 1965, with
terms of reference that included the preparation of methodological
guides on water balance computations.
A 'Scheme for the Computation of Water Balance Elements' was
the first step in this direction, prepared through the initiative
of the USSR National Committee for the IHD at the State Hydrologi-
cal Institute, under the guidance of the late Dr. V.A. Quryvaev. A
paper entitled 'Summary of methods of computation of water balance'
(USSR, Interdepartmental Committee for the IHD 1967) was approved
by the Working Group and submitted to the Co-ordinating Council at
its third session in 1967. The Council recommended that Unesco dis-
tribute this paper to all the National Committees for the I W .
A WMO report on the preparation of the co-ordinated maps of
precipitation, runoff and evaporation for the study of water balance
(Nordenson, 1968) also contains useful guidance material.
The Working Group's Panel on the Scientific Framework of the
Vorld Water Balance, at its second session (May, 1969), requested
the IND Secretariat to nominate an expert for preparation of a Guide
for Methods of Computation of Water Balances, taking into account
Dr. Ouryvaev's document, relevant WO/IHD reports, and material sub-
mitted by National Committees. The Secretariat requested the USSR
National Committee for the I W to undertake this task, and Prof.
P.S. Kuzin was designated by the National Committee to prepare a
draft outline of the Guide. The outline was discussed and approved
by the Working Group on Water Balances at its fourth session (July,
1970). A Draft of the Guide was prepared on the basis of this out-
line and the guidelines set down by the Working Group, and circulat-
ed to Working Group members for comment
The draft report and written comments were discussed in detail
at the fifth session (December 1972) of the Working Group, Specific
tasks for revision of sections which proved difficult were allocat-
ed to designated authors, and it was arranged that the final manus-
cript would be completed at a meeting of the editors in June 1973.
The main difficulties that arose in the preparation of the
report were problems of selection and consistent arrangement of the
large volume of material available on methods of water balance com-
putations. While the report is intended to be complete in itself,
less detailed treatment has been given to sections where guidance

Methods for m t e r bokance compututions

material is already available in the international publications of

WMO, UNESCO, the International Association for Hydrological Sciences
(IAHS) , and other organizations.
Practical applications of the water balance method usually in-
volve a combination of scientific principles with general applica-
tion, and empirical techniques restricted to specific climates,
land forms, or purposes. The report attempts to indicate where
these techniques may be reasonably applied, either without modif i-
cation or after experimental determination of values of constants
and coefficients appropriate to the specific problem. Space limit-
ations have prevented more than a partial description of many tech-
niques, and the reader is urged to study the cited references,
which have been selected from the large body of international
scientific literature on this subject.
The draft of the report was prepared by a group of scientists
at the State Hydrological Institute of the USSR headed by Prof.
P.S. Kuzin, who prepared many of the sections. Sections 3.4 and
5.5 were prepared by Prof. P.P. Kuzmin; sections and 5.2
by Z.A. Vihlina; -
by R.A. Nezhikhovski and V.I. Babkin;
sections 3.5.4 and 5.5
by A.P. Bochkov; section 5.1.4
by O.V. Popov; sections 5.1.2 and 5.1.3
by S.F. Fedorov; section 5.1.5 --
by S.I. Kharchenko and A.S. Subbotin; section 5.3 - by L.G. Bavina;
section 4 -
by G.A. Plitkin, section 7 - by O.G. Sorochan. Materials
for preparation of section 5.5 were kindly presented by A.N. Krenke
and V.G. Khodakov from the Institute of Geography of the Academy of
Sciences of the USSR.
Written comments on the draft report, considered by the Work-
ing Group and taken into account in the final version, were prepar-
ed by I.C. Brown (Canada), T.G. Chapman (Australia), D.R. Dawdy
(USA), D. Lazarescu (Rumania), J. Nemec (WMO) and J.A. da Costa
(UNESCO). D.S. Mitchell (U.K.) prepared section om aquatic
plants. M. Sugawara (Japan) prepared the revised section 4 on
statistical aspects. D.W. Lawson (Inland Waterways Directorate,
Department of Environment, Canada) revised section 5.4 on ground-
water basins. E.M. Rasmussen (WO) contributed additional material
for section 7 on atmospheric water balances.
Prof. A.A. Sokolov, Director of the State Hydrological Instit-
ute of the USSR, is the senior editor of the report, assisted in
the English language version by Prof. T.G. Chapman (University of
New South Wales, Australia), who is Chairman of the Working Group
on Water Balances.

1.1 Objectives and importance of water balance studies.
Water balance techniques, one of the main subjects in hydrology,
are a means of solution of important theoretical and practical
hydrological problems. On the basis of the water balance approach
it is possible to make a quantitative evaluation of water resources
and their change under the influence of man's activities.
The study of the water balance structure of lakes, river basins,
and ground-water basins forms a basis for the hydrological substan-
tiation of projects for the rational use, control and redistribution
of water resources in time and space (e.g. inter-basin transfers,
streamflow control, etc.). Knowledge of the water balance assists the
prediction of the consequences of artificial changes in the regime
of streams, lakes , and ground-water basins.
Current information on the water balance of river and lake
basins for short time intervals (season, month, week and day) is
used for operational management of reservoirs and for the compila-
tion of hydrological forecasts for water management.
An understanding of the water balance is also extremely impor-
tant for studies of the hydrological cycle. With water balance
data it is possible to compare individual sources of water in a
system, over different periods of time, and to establish the degree
of their effect on variations in the water regime.
Further , the initial analysis used to compute individual water
balance components, and the co-ordination of these components in
the balance equation make it possible to identify deficiencies in
the distribution of observational stations, and to discover syste-
matic errors of measurements.
Finally, water balance studies provide an indirect evaluation
of an unknown water balance component from the difference between
the known components (e.g. long-term evaporation from a river basin
may be computed by the difference between precipitation and runoff).
1.2 Purpose and scope of the report
This report is intended as an international manual for the computa-
tion of water balances of river basins, land areas, and surface and
subsurface water bodies. It is expected that the report will be
most useful in developing countries and other regions where lack of
data or other circumstances have prevented the computation of water
balances. The background knowledge assumed in the reader is that
of a graduate scientist or engineer, preferably with an elementary
understanding of hydrological terms and practices.
The basic purpose of the report is to establish, as far as
possible, unified principles and methods which may be applied in
different countries to compute the water balance and its components
Such unified methods are essential for the computation of the water
balances of international river basins, and of large regions cover-
ing the territory of several countries. The methods described in
the report do not however account for all possible variations in
environment and natural features, and therefore do not eliminate the
need for tests and experimental studies in some circumstances, as

Methods fw mater bahnce compututions

emphasized in the Foreword.

The report describes methods of computation for both long-term
(or average) and short-term periods for the following:-
- The main water balance components -
precipitation, runoff , evapo-

- ration, and water storage in various forms.

The water balance of land areas
cal regions and continents.
river basins, countries, physi-
- The water balance of water bodies -
lakes and reservoirs, swamps,
ground water, glaciers and ice sheets, inland seas, and the atmos-
pher e.
- The water balance of areas with distinctive hydrological characte-
ristics (which may have sufficient total area to affect large-
scale water balances)
reclaimed land.
forests, irrigated land, and drained or

1.3 Terminology
The report uses the terminology usually applied in international
hydrological practice (Chebotarev, 1970; UNESCO-WMO , 1969;
Gidrometeoizdat, 1970; Toebes and Ouryvaev, 1970).
1.4 Symbols
Symbols used in this report have been carefully selected to form a
consistent unambiguous set that is as far as possible in conformity
with other publications (UNESCO, 1971) and international standards
(IUPAP, 1965).
The units given are recommended units, and are consistent with
the values of constants quoted. As a result, the presentation of
empirical equations may differ in appearance from the author's
original formulat ion.
Symbols of specialized quantities, which are restricted to one
section of the report, are listed separately from those which occur
frequently in the text.
Many symbols are modified by the use of subscripts, to indicate
a more particular meaning. Modifiers which are used frequently are
listed separately below. Numerical subscripts and primes (I) have
meanings which are defined locally in the text.
General Modifiers
Type Symbol Meaning

prescript A change in value during the water

balance time interval (positive=
increase; negative=decrease)
subscripts an analogue
ch river and stream channels
gl glacier, ice
I inflow to the water body under
L lakes and reservoirs
0 outflow from the water body undei
Methods for water bahnce compu&tions

subscript s obs ob served

S surface
sn snow
st exchange between inland sea and
U underground (subsurface)
superscript - mean value

General Symbols

Symbol Meaning

a part of an area
A area (of a drainage basin)
CS skew coefficient
CV coefficient of variation (See
section 4)
E evaporation (including transpira-
t ion) m
g acceleration due to gravity m/sec2
G groundwater storage m
I irrigation flow mm
M moisture in soil and unsaturated
zone mm
n number of terms in a series -
P pr ec ip itat ion actually received m
at the ground surface
Q runoff or total flow mm
S standard deviation of water
balance component mm
S water storage, expressed as a m
mean depth
T water balance period various
Tr conventional residence time various
V water storage, expressed as a m3
W water storage in the atmosphere m
11 residual term of water balance m

2.1 General form of the water balance equation.
The study of the water balance is the application in hydrology of
the principle of conservation of mass, often referred to as the con-
tinuity equation. This states that, for any arbitrary volurne and
during any period of time, the difference between total input and
output will be balanced by the change of water storage within the
volume. In general, therefore, use of a water-balance technique
implies measurements of both storages and fluxes (rates of flow) of
Water, though by appropriate selection of the volume and period of
time for which the balance will be applied, some measurements may
be eliminated (UNESCO, 1971).
The water balance equation for any natural area (such as a
river basin) or water body indicates the relative values of inflow,
outflow and change in water storage for the area or body. In gen-
eral, the inflow part of the water balance equation comprises pre-
cipitation (P) as rainfall and snow actually received at the ground
surface, and surface and subsurface water inflow into the basin or
water body from outside (QS1 and QU1). The outflow part of the
equation includes evaporation from the surface of the water body (E)
and surface and subsurface outflow from the basin or water body
(Qso and Quo). When the inflow exceeds the outflow, the total
water storage in the body (AS) increases; an inflow less than the
outflow results in decreased storage. All the water-balance com-
ponents are subject to errors of measurement or estimation, and the
water-balance equation should therefore include a discrepancy term
(11). Consequently the water balance for any water body and any
time interval in its general form may be represented by the follow-
ing equation:
P + QSI + QU1 E- - - -
Qso QUO As rl = 0- (11
2.2 Other forms of the water balance equation.
For application to a variety of Water-balance computations equation
(1) may be simplified or made more complex, depending on the avail-
able initial data, the purpose of the computation, the type of body
(river basin or artificially separated administrative district, lake
or reservoir, etc.), and the dimensions of the water body, its hydro-
graphic and hydrologic features, the duration of the balance time
interval, and the phase of the hydrological regime (flood, low flow)
for which the water balance is computed.
In large river basins, QU1 and Quo are small compared with
other terms, and are therefore usually ignored, i.e. subsurface
water exchange with neighbouring basins is assumed to be zero. There
is no surface water inflow into a river basin with a distinct water-
shed divide (assuming no artificial diversions from other basins) ,
and therefore QS1 is not included in the water balance equation of
a river basin. Thus for a river basin equation (1) is usually
simplified as follows :
P - E - Q - AS - = 0 (2)
where Q represents the river discharge from the basin.

Methods fbr water balance computations

On the other hand, depending on the specific problem, the

terms of equation (1) may be subdivided. For example, in the com-
pilation of water balances for short time intervals, the change in
total water storage (AS) in a small river basin may be subdivided
into changes of moisture storage in the soil (AM), in aquifers
(AG), in lakes and reservoirs (ASL), in river channels (ASch), in
glaciers (ASgl) and in snow cover (AS,,). Thus in this case the
water balance equation becomes -

where QS1 represents the net surface water diversion from other
2.3 Special features of the water balance equation for different
time intervals.
The water balance may be computed for any time interval, but dis-
tinction may be made between mean water balances and balances or
specific periods (such as a year, season, month or number of days),
sometimes called current or operational water balances. Water bal-
ance computations for mean values and specific periods each have
distinctive charact er ist ic s.
Mean water balances are usually computed for an annual cycle
(calendar year or hydrological year), although they may be computed
for any season or month.
The computation of the mean annual water balance is the most
simple water balance problem, since it is possible to disregard
changes in water storage in the basin (AS), which are difficult to
measure and compute. Over a long period, positive and negative
water storage variations for individual years tend to balance, and
their net value at the end of a long period may be assumed to be
The reverse situation occurs when computing the water balance
or short time intervals, for which AS # 0. The shorter the time
interval, the more precise are the requirements for measurement or
computation of the water balance components, and the more subdivided
should be the values of AS and other elements. This results in a
complex water balance equation which is difficult to close with
acceptable errors.
The term AS must also be considered in the computation of mean
water balances for seasons or months.
2.4 Special features of the water balance equation for water bodies
of different dimensions.
The water balance may be computed for water bodies of any size, but
the complexity of computation depends greatly on the extent of the
area under study.
A river basin Is the only natural area for which large-scale
water balance computations can be simplified, since the accuracy of
computation increases with an increase in the river basin's area.
This is explained by the fact that the smaller the basin area, the

Water bakance equation

more complicated is its water balance, as it is difficult to esti-

mate secondary components of the balance such as ground-water ex-
change with adjacent basins; water storage in lakes, reservoirs,
swamps, and glaciers; and the dynamics of the water balance of
forests, and irrigated and drained land. The effect of these
factors gradually decreases with an increase in the river basin
area and may finally be neglected.
The complexity of the computation of the water balance of lakes,
reservoirs, swamps, ground-water basins and mountain-glacier basins
tends to increase with increases in area. This is due to a related
increase in the technical difficulty of accurately measuring and
computing the numerous important water balance components of large
water bodies, such as lateral inflow and variations in water stor-
age in large lakes and reservoirs, precipitation on their water
surface, etc
2.5 Closing of the water balance equation.
To close the water balance equation it is essential to measure or
compute all the balance elements, using independent metho
ver possible. Measurements and computations of water balance ele-
ments always involve errors, due to shortcomings in the techniques
used. The water balance equation therefore usually does not bal-
ance, even if all its components are measured or computed by inde-
pendent methods. The discrepancy of water balance (q) is given as
a residual term of the water balance equation, and includes the
errors in the determination of the components considered, and the
values of components not taken into account by the particular form
of the equation being used. A low value of 11 may indicate only
that its component parts tend to balance out.
If it is impossible to obtain the value of a balance component
by direct measurement OK computation, the component may be evalua-
ted as a residual term in the water balance equation. In this case,
the term includes the balance discrepancy, and therefore contains
an unknown error, which may even be larger than the value of the
component Similar considerations apply when measured values of
one component are used to estimate the values of another component
through an empirical or sani-empirical formula. The value so
estimated will include errors due to the imperfections of the for-
mula and in the measured component, and the overall error is again
2.6 Units for the components of the water balance equations
The components of a water balance equation may be expressed as a
mean depth of water over the basin or water body (nun), or as a
volume of water (d), or in the form of flow rates (m3s-I). The
last form is convenient for many water management computations, but
is usually computed from a balance which has been derived for a
specific time interval
AS the computation of the water balance usually begins with
the computation of mean precipitation over the basin, the other
components are usually also expressed as depths of water. In the
recommended units, transformations between depth and volume are

Methods for wter balance compututions

simple, e.g.
V=1000AS (41
where S is a storage expressed as a mean depth (mm), V is the same
storage expressed as a volume (m3), and A is the area of the basin
or water body (lan2).

3.1 Basic data.
Records of precipitation and runoff from the network of stations
are the basic data for computation of the water balance components
of river basins for long-term periods. These records are publish-
ed in hydrological and meteorological year-books, bulletins, etc.
To compute the water balance for individual years, seasons, or
months, it is necessary in addition to have data on water storage
variations in the basin. These are obtained from snow surveys,
observations of soil moisture, water-level fluctuations in lakes
and ground-water fluctuations in wells.
To compute the water balance of small areas with special fea-
tures in the water balance (mountain glacier basins, large forest
areas, irrigated land, etc.), it is necessary in most cases to or-
ganize a special programme of observations, e.g. observations of
glacier ablation, interception of precipitation, soil moisture, etc.
To compute evaporation it is desirable to have data from eva-
poration pans or tanks and meteorological data on temperature,
humidity, wind, cloudiness, and radiation.
3.1.1 Maps and atlases
When there is an absence or shortage of observational data on pre-
cipitation, runoff or evaporation in a river basin, regional maps
and atlases of mean values of these elements may be useful (Norden-
son, 1968; GUGK and USSR Academy of Sciences 1964; WMO, 1970b;
Rainbird, 1967; Sokolov, 1961; Sokolov, 1968). With the help of
these isoline maps it is possible to determine the mean values of
precipitation, runoff and evaporation for any area by planimetering.
The principal methods for preparing these maps are described
in Sections3.2.3.1, 3.3.4 and 3.4.4; at this point it should be
noted that for water-balance computations the maps of annual pre-
cipitation, evaporation and runoff must be co-ordinated, i.e. pre-
cipitation, minus evaporation and runoff, all evaluated by isoline
maps, must be equal to zero in conformity with the equation for
the mean water balance of a river basin (GUGK and USSR Academy of
Sciences, 1964) :-

The co-ordination of the three maps is performed on the basis

of an evaluation of the reliability of each map. Usually the run-
off map is the most reliable (with the exception of arid areas with
ephemeral streams), since the data on discharge at a gauging section
automatically integrate the depth of runoff for the basin. Runoff
maps are therefore usually used for correction, as well as coordi-
nation, of precipitetion and evaporation maps (Nordenson, 1968).
3.2 Precipitation
3.2.1 General
Precipitation is usually the only source of moisture coming to the
land surface and thus the accuracy of measurement and computation
of precipitation determines to a considerable extent the reliability

Methods for water balance computations

of a11 water-balance computations.

The mean amount of precipitation, in a river basin or any other
area, is determined by precipitation gauges, installed within the
area under study. In the case of an insufficient number of gauges,
records of precipitation gauges installed in neighbouring regions
may also be used to provide a more accurate computation of precipi-
tation. The shorter the period of water-balance computation, the
more dense must be the precipitation gauge network.
Precipitation gauges used for water-balance computations must
meet the usual requirements for precipitation gauges in a climato-
logic and hydrometeorologic network ( W O , 1962; W O , 1970a).
To compute mean water balances, long-term series of observa-
tions of precipitation are needed (about 25-50 years). To estimate
missing data, it is advisable to establish graphical relations of
observational data at neighbouring stations or to use the correla-
tion method (Nordenson, 1968; Rainbird, 1967; Rodda, 1972;
Hershfield, 1965; Hershfield, 1968; Kagan, 1972a; Green, 1970a,
When determining the mean precipitation for an area or water
body, two problems arise: first, the determination of the precipi-
tation at a point and, second, the determination of the mean pre-
cipitation depth over the area under study, using point observa-
t ions.
3.2.2 Measurement of precipitation at a point and correction of
measured precipitation.
It is well known that the precipitation gauges currently used in
the network of meteorological stations dq not catch the total
amount of precipitation, mainly because of wind effect. The catch
deficiency is especially great when precipitation occurs in the
form of snow and it may reach 100% due to strong winds.
In addition, a certain amount of precipitation caught by the
gauge is lost by evaporation during the period between the begin-
ing of precipitation and the time of measurement, and by wetting
the gauge collector in each new fall, especially in the case of
drizzle. If drizzle occurs frequently the total loss due to this
cause may be considerable.
Therefore, in the computation of water balances, the mean
value of precipitation for basins or water bodies must be evaluated
on the basis of corrected data, to compensate for systematic errors
of gauge measurements (Bochlwv, 1965; Bochkov, 1970; GGI, 1966;
GGI, 1967; Struzer et al. , 1965; Struzer et al., 1968 ) . In one of
the latest WMO publications ( W O , 1970b), the corrections for wind
effect are evaluated on an average as 10-15% for rain and 40-60%
for snow. These corrections were obtained in the USSR for 200 cm2
gauges, installed 2 m above the ground surface. According to
Nordenson (1968) , inaccuracies of measurement of tropical showers
usually do not exceed 5%. Experimental investigations carried out
in the USSR (Gidrometeoizdat, 1971a) show that losses from wetting
the gauge collector are about 0.2 mm per measurement for rain and
0.1 mm for snow, while losses by evaporation average about 6% of
the total precipitation during the summer (depending on gauge design

Computotion of Components

and the air temperature).

Corrections for the reduction of measured rainfall to true
values are determined by comparison of the records of standard pre-
cipitation gauges and ground-level gauges, installed at the ground
surface in places protected from wind, and designed to minimize
errors due to splashing of water into or out of the collector.
Corrections for snowfall are also determined by parallel mea-
surements with precipitation gauges, installed both in open and
protected places (e.g. in a deciduous forest or a forest clearing),
or by comparison of precipitation gauge data with the increase of
snow storage, measured by detailed snow surveys during periods of
no thawing a
3.2.3 Computation of mean precipitation over an area
The mean values of precipitation for river basins and administra-
tive regions with a relatively even distribution of network stations
and small variations of precipitation over the area are computed as
the arithmetic mean of data available from all stations, i.e.
p = -1 "
n pi
where is the mean precipitation for the given basin or region, Pi
is the mean precipitation for the same period at the i-th station,
and n is the number of stations used to compute the mean.
When the network of stations is unevenly distributed over the
area, the areal precipitation is computed from the records of mete-
orological stations as a weighted average value, i.e.

where ai is the area, of which the i-th precipitation station is

expected to be representative, A = lai is the area of the river
basin or region. The area ai, adjoining the given station, may be
determined by means of a map of the station network, for instance,
by the Thiessen method (Rainbird, 1967; McGuinness, 1963). Isohyetal maps
Another method for determining precipitation over a basin is the
plotting of isohyetal maps. The corrected value of precipitation
at each station is plotted on the map, and isolines of precipitat-
ion (isohyets) are drawn, taking into account orography and the
pluviometric gradient in mountain regions (Nordenson, 1968 ; W O ,
1970b). Intervals between isohyets should be not less than the
mean error of interpolation.
As the standard deviation increases with the amount of pre-
cipitation, in areas of marked relief the spacing of isolines in-
creases with altitude at a geometrical rate.
WMO (1970b) has recommended that maps of mean annual precipi-
tation at the scale of 1 : 5,000,000 have isolines at 100: 200,...
800; 1,000; ....... 1,600; 2,000; .......3,200; 4,000 mm.

Methods fw water balance cornputotions

3.2.4 Special features

Precipitation measurements over water surfaces and large forest
areas are of a special character and demand, therefore, some addi-
tional. explanations.
When computing the precipitation that falls on the surface of
lakes and reservoirs, it is necessary to take into account the fact
that, due to the attenuation of ascending air currents above the
water surface which aids in the formation of convective local pre-
cipitation, the amount of precipitation falling on the water sur-
faces, as well as on open flat islands and beaches, is less than
on the land and littoral area. For instance, on flat islands in
large water bodies the annual precipitation may be 15-25% less than
on the shore (Natrus, 1964; Matushevski, 1960).
To take into account the reduction of precipitation over a
lake or reservoir, the gauges should be installed not only around
the periphery of the lake, but also at some distance from the coast
on islands and light-ships.
For the computation of precipitation over a large forest area
(Corbett, 1967) precipitation gauges are installed in forest clear-
ings. Due to aerodynamic effects, the cleared areas sometimes dis-
tort the conditions under which precipitation (particularly snow)
falls, increasing its amount compared to that falling over the
forest area. Precipitation gauges should therefore be installed in
the centre of forest clearings, where the elevation above the hori-
zontal of the line from the gauge orifice to the tops of the near-
est trees is 30 -
500 for coniferous forest and 78O -
80 for de-
ciduous forest (Fedorova, 1966).
For the determination of the total monthly solid precipitation
under the forest canopy, snow survey data may be used, in addition
to precipitation observations (Costin et al., 1961).
3.3 River runoff
3.3.1 Normal runoff and selection of the Water balance period
The mean water discharge of normal runoff is a basic characteristic
of the water resources of rivers. The accuracy of runoff determin-
ation depends on the accuracy of flow measurement and computation,
on the variability of the flow, on the duration of the period of
observations, and on the density of the gauging network ( W O , 1970a;
Van der Made, 1972; Davis and Langbein, 1972).
Normal runoff, calculated as an arithmetic mean from the ser-
ies of observed values, is a statistical concept. Variations of
runoff with time can therefore be fitted to statistical distribu-
tions and may be investigated-by means of probability theory
methods. The normal runoff (Q), the variation coefficient (C ),
and the skew coefficient (C,) are parameters of the distribution
curve of annual runoff.
For statistical treatment it is essential to have homogeneous
time series, i.e. the physiographic factors that affect runoff
formation and the construction and management of control structures
on the rivers must not change during the period to be studied. The
normal or mean annual runoff should be determined for a long obser-

computution of ComQonents

vational period which includes several, wet and dry cycles of

stream flow. The normal runoff may be computed from

o = -1 l" Qi
n i=1
where 0 is the normal runoff and Qi is the annual runoff in the
i-th year of a long-term period of n years, such that further ex-
tension of the series has only a slight affect on the value of Q.
A discussion of the accuracy of estimation of normal runoff
and its mean square root error is given in Section 4.2.
For the determination of mean long-term runoff it is essential
to have a period of observations which involves approximately the
same number of dry and wet cycles of river flow. The greater the
number of complete cycles of flow, the less will be the error of
estimation of normal runoff. Since cyclic runoff variations are
not synchronous for rivers separated by a great distance from each
other, the use of a uniform period of observations for the compila-
tion of runoff maps is not feasible.
The appropriate period for rivers in the same hydrological re-
~~ ~

gion, where variations of runoff are in phase, should be determined

by a preliminary plotting of the integrated normalized runoff

against n, for n = 1, 2, 3 ... ; where 6 and s are the mean and

standard deviation of the runoff (Andrejanov, 1957; Kuzin 1970;
Sokolovski, 19'68).
In the computation of normal runoff three cases may occur;
(a) sufficient observational data are available; (b) only short-
term observational data are available; and (c) there is a complete
absence of observational data.
3.3.2 Computation of normal runoff using observational data
When hydrometric data are available for a relatively long time in-
terval, the normal runoff is computed as the arithmetic mean of the
whole observation series. To this end it is essential to have a
series with two or three cycles of river flow. Where the series of
observations is at least 50-60 years, the mean value may be comput-
ed from the whole series without considering cyclic variations.
When computing normal runoff from a short-term observational
series (10 years or less), it is essential to extend the series.
For this purpose use is made of long-term series for adjacent gaug-
ed rivers situated in similar physiographic conditions. The avail-
ability of sufficiently close relations between annual runoff at
the specified station and at a base station with a long-term obser-
vational series is a necessary condition for the extension of short-
term series. The extension of a short series may be performed by
graphical and analytical methods; the first method is preferable
since it shows the type and extent of the interrelations visually. Graphical method. The reduction to norma1 r u m f f is made
from graphical relations plotted for the whole observation period

Methods for water bakame computations

on the particular river and at the base station on the river to be

used as an analogue. The relations between annual runoff may be
linear or curvilinear. Curvilinear relations are used when it can
be established that they are explained not by a chance distribution
of points but by a real difference in the variations of runoff in
the two rivers.
Linear relations are most often used and in this case the
points should be evenly distributed on both sides of the adopted
line. The position of the line may be defined more closely when
it is plotted through annual runoff values of the same frequency,
i.e. of similar probability of occurrence during the period of
simultaneous observations. Such plotting of equi-frequency values
is admissible only when the variations of annual runoff at the two
stations are synchronous.
This type of rating curve will pass through the origin of co-
ordinates only when the coefficients of variation of annual runoff
at both points are approximately the same. The graphs,may be con-
sidered satisfactory if the number of points on the curve is not
less than 8-10? with a correlation coefficient of 0.7 - 0.8. De-
viations of individual points from the rating curve should not ex-
ceed 10-15% of the computed runoff value. Reliable results will
be obtained if the graph is substantiated by points related to very
dry and wet years (Fig. 1).
When the relation is linear, the normal runoff at the site with
the short-term series can be determined from the normal runoff at
the site with the long-term series, without calculation of the run-
off values for individual years. When the relation is curvilinear,
the runoff values at the short-term site are computed for all the
years in the base series, except those used in the graph, and the
mean is calculated for the complete computed series at the short-
term station.
Where there are gaps in the observations or a scatter of points
on the graph, it is possible to use the correlation method (Norden-
son, 1968) or the analytical method which follows. Analytical method. The reduction of runoff to a long-term
period depends on the assumption that the curves relating the flows
at the two sites pass through the origin of co-ordinates-and the
ratio of flows in the two rivers for different time periods is con-
In this case the normal runoff at the point with a short-term
observation series is

where 0 and &.,

indicate normal runoff at the specified site and at
the analogue site, and tj and tjan obs indicate average values of
runoff for simultaneous short-term observational periods.
The computation of normal runoff from equation (9) should be
done only when the compared rivers are in the same physiographic
region, and have approximately the same drainage areas, relatively
similar proportions of base flow and similar coefficients of varia-

Computation of Components

Fig. 1. Relations between annual discharge per unit area of the Emba
river at Araltobe and the Ilek river at Aktubinsk and the
Temir river at Leninski.

Methodsfor water bakznce compututions

tion. When there are significant differences in the coefficients

of variation of annual runoff for the two rivers, large errors may
If it is impossible to obtain a runoff analogue for the short-
term site, its series may'be extended by relating runoff to meteo-
rological elements, primarily precipitation. The use of precipita-
tion data for runoff computation is convenient because in many
countries the number of precipitation stations is higher than the
number of hydrometric stations, and precipitation records are avail-
able for longer time periods. The accuracy of this method is not
high, and it should therefore be applied with great caution.
3.3.3 Computation of normal runoff without observational data
An approximate evaluation of normal runoff can be made with the use
of one of the following methods: (1) a map of runoff isolines (See
Section 3.3.4); (2) the analogue method; and (3) the water and
heat balance equation. Computation of normal runoff from a map of isolines
Runoff maps can be used to compute the mean long-term discharge for
an ungauged river. To this end, individual areas of the ungauged
basin between runoff isolines are measured by a planimeter (Fig. 2),
and the value of each area is multiplied by the mean runoff depth
between the isolines. The sum of the products so obtained, divided
by the basin area, provides the mean weighted runoff of the basin.
Thus the mean runoff for a basin area A is computed from the equa-
t ion :

where 0 is the unknown normal runoff, ai is a sub-area of the basin

between two adjacent isolines with an average runoff depth Qi, and
n is the number of such sub-areas.
In the USSR, the mean error of normal annual runoff determina-
tion by means of a map for a medium sized (5000-50 000 km2) basin is
about 10% in the northern region of temperate latitudes, about 15%
in central areas, and about 25% in southern arid regions. In the
case of large rivers, this error tends to decrease to 8-10%.
In using isoline maps to compute basin runoff, it should be re-
membered that the maps are mainly based on interpolations between
runoff data, and may therefore be considerably in error in some
areas, althoughgiving an impression of precision. It is always
advisable to examine the basis of the map in some detail, otherwise
past errors may be carried forward into current assessment and plan-
For small rivers of the arid zone with incomplete drainage of
underground flow, data on normal runoff taken from the map may differ
greatly from actual values (either increased or decreased). In the
USSR, use is made of regional correction coefficients, for the tran-
sition from the normal runoff of medium-sized rivers to runoff from
small basins, computed from drainage area and the degree of incision

ComQutution of ComQonents

Fig. 2. An example of average discharge determination from runoff


Methods for water balance computalions

of the stream (Fig. 3), For rivers of mountain regions, addition-

al graphs (Fig. 4) are used, showing relations between normal run-
off and basin elevation and slope exposure. Corrections for the
effect of azonal factors for small rivers should be introduced into
n o m 1 runoff , taken from the map, and compared with mean values of
this factor for basins for which normal runoff isolines have been
plotted on the map. Computation of normal runoff by the analogue method
The analogue method can be used to determine normal runoff for an
ungauged basin when the available maps of runoff isolines are inade-
quate. This method is applied for a preliminary evaluation of nor-
mal annual runoff in regions with only a few runoff isolines which
have been plotted from data from an inadequate number of base
When selecting analogue basins, particular attention should be
paid to the similarity of the basins under comparison in relation
to physiographic features (topography, geology, climate, soils,
vegetation), hydrographic features (lake area, river network densi-
ty etc), morphometric features (drainage area, slopes, etc.) and
other characteristics .
If there is sufficient similarity between the basins under com-
parison in relation to the above characteristics, this provides a
basis for transfer of runoff values from the base station to the un-
gauged basin.
If normal runoff and normal precipitation at the site with a
short-term observation series are q and F, and those for the analo-
gue are Qan and Pan, then

This method provides an approximate normal runoff value for poorly

gauged rivers. Computation of normal runoff by the water and heat balance
In poorly gauged regions, an approximate evaluation of normal runoff
for medium and large rivers m&y be made by use of equation (5) for
the water balance of a river basin for a long-term period; i.e.,
the normal runoff is the difference between mean precipitation and
evaporation. The normal annual precipitation required may be ob-
tained from climatic manuals or taken from a map of mean corrected
precipitation. The normal annual evaporation may be obtained from
the heat balance equation or by means of empirical formulae (See
Section 3.4). For small basins with a typical runoff this method
may give incorrect results, and it is undesirable in any case, for
reasons stated earlier, to compute a major component of the hydro-
logical cycle as a residual in the water balance equation.
3.3.4 Maps of runoff isolines
TO characterize the distribution of runoff over an area, and to com-
pute runoff for the large numbers of basins with gaps in the hydro-

Computation of Components

Fig. 3. Variation of mean discharge with catchment area in different

zones of the European territory of the USSR.

Methods fw water bokrnce c m ~ t u t i o n s

Fig. 4. The graph of dependence of mean annual runoff on the average

altitude of the basin for 5 regions with different slope ex-
posures in the Caucasus.

Computution of Components

metric record, it is useful to compile maps of isolines of mean

annual runoff. To compile the map of normal annual runoff, a pre-
liminary computation of normal runoff for individual river basins
is made on the basis of direct measurements. The data obtained,
unlike meteorological elements (precipitation, temperature, etc. 1
are related to the centre of gravity of the basin and not to the
gauging station. To plot the isolines, the hydrometric stations
are plotted on the map, the basin boundaries are drawn, and the nor-
mal runoff values are plotted in the centre of each basin. On the
basis of the plotted values, lines are drawn connecting points with
similar normal runoff values, taking topography and other physio-
graphic factors into account. In mountain areas the rate of varia-
tion of areal runoff is considerable and the pattern of isolines is
For plotting runoff maps, data are taken from medium-sized
rivers with runoff characteristics typical of their physiographic
region. Data should not be used from small rivers, with runoff
mainly determined by local factors, or from large rivers, which may
flow through several physiographic regions and which give rise to
uncertainty as to the point where the mean runoff should be plotted.
On the other hand, observational data from large basins are import-
ant as a means of checking the plotting of the runoff isolines.
To prepare maps of runoff isolines for plains areas, it is ad-
visable to use data from rivers with an undisturbed water regime
with drainage areas from 500-50 000 km2, and in mountain areas with
drainage areas not larger than 500 1000 km2. In some cases,
where groundwater aquifers are shallow, the lower limits of these
drainage areas may be decreased (e.g. in plains down to 300 lan2, and
in mountains down to 100 lad). It is undesirable to use data from
ephemeral water courses, since their runoff is often underestimated
due to incomplete drainage of groundwater.
For the areas in the map without hydrological stations, it is
possible as an approximation to use runoff values computed by the
water and heat balance method. In this case the runoff isolines
should be shown in the map by a dotted line.
Verification of the correct plotting of runoff isolines is done
by planimetering the areas between isolines and determining the run-
off in all gauged basins. Where discrepancies occur, the position
of the isolines is adjusted.
The appropriate scale for a runoff map depends on the number of
observational points with known normal runoff, the evenness of its
areal distribution, relations of runoff between adjacent points, and
the effect of topography, geology, and other factors on runoff.
To characterize the gauging intensity for a region, its area is
divided by the number of gauging stations. Ideally, the scale of
the map should be selected so that the mean distance between gauging
stations on the map is 10 nun, which provides sufficient information
to interpolate isolines every 5 mm. Thus if the gauging intensity
is 1 station per 100 km2, so that the mean distance between stations
is 10 km, the scale of the map should be 1 : 1 000 000. Convenient
scales for various gauging intensities are shown in Table 1.

Methods for water bakance computations

Table 1. Recommended scales for runoff maps in relation to the

intensity of the stream gauging network.

Gauging intensity M a p scale


100 1 :1 000 000

500 1 :1 500 000
1 000 1 :2 500 000
5 000 1 :5 000 000
10 000 1 :10 000 000

In mountain areas the scale of the map is selected according

to the rate of change of runoff with elwation in such a way that
the minimum distance between runoff isolines is no less than 2 mm.
Where isolines are very closely spaced, the maximum and minimum iso-
lines are plotted, and some intermediate lines are omitted.
Maps of mean annual values of water-balance components (preci-
pitation, runoff , evaporation) should be co-ordinated with each
other (Nordenson, 1968).
3.3.5 Separation of the runoff hydrograph into components
In the computation of water balances it is often desirable to separ-
ate runoff into surface and subsurface components, ip order to com-
pute separate water balances for different water bodies (see, for
example, Section 5.4). All the methods of runoff hydrograph se-
paration are approximate, and depend on a conceptual model of the
interaction between surface water and groundwater. Each method
provides a technique for drawing a line on the stream hydrograph to
separate the surface from the subsurface flow. Once this line has
been drawn, the subsurface runoff can be computed by planimetering
the area below the line.
For rivers in plains, with a spring snowmelt flood, the separa-
tion of subsurface flow and rainfall flood flow is very difficult.
The most simple technique is to make a graphic separation of the
runoff hydrograph on the basis of the stable discharge that occurs
during the low water period when the river is mainly fed by under-
ground water (Popov, 1967). The separation is made by a horizontal
line or smooth curve passing through the ordinates of winter dis-
charge just before spring, with a slight rise to the wave of flood
recession, and through the ordinates of discharges at the start of
summer low flow (Fig. 5).
According to a different model (Kudelin, 1966), subsurface flow
decreases sharply from the start,of spring runoff, and ceases com-
pletely during the flood crest (Fig. 6). The decrease of subsur-
face flow in this model is caused by the increased hydrostatic
pressures of the flood wave on the groundwater flow, which may re-

ley -
sult in the outflow of river water into the groundwater of the val-

In some cases, subsurface flow is divided genetically into two

types: (1) perched-alluvial and (2) deep underground. The latter

Computution of Components
Methodsfor water balance computations
Compulotion of Components

flow (shown by a horizontal line in Fig. 6) is characterized by

greater stability.
Fig. 7 illustrates runoff separation for a mountain river fed
by snow or a glacier. The separation of runoff for mountain rivers
is more difficult than runoff separation for plains rivers.
Other techniques of hydrograph separation have been described
by Meyboom (1961) and Linsley et al. (1949), while an extensive re-
view of the literature on base flow recession has been given by
Hall (1968).
In arid zones, the water-table is usually below the level of
the stream bed, and the stream flow therefore recharges the ground-
water. The inflow to the groundwater below a given length of
stream chaffinelcan be determined by measuring the transmission loss,
which is the difference between stream inflow and outflow for this
part of the channel, corrected if necessary for the effect of tri-
butary inflows and evaporation from the stream and riparian vege-
tatioffi, This fs in fact another application of the water balance
approach, but errors of measurement and estimation may be unaccep-
tably high unless the stream reach is sufficiently long for a large
part of the inflow to become transmission loss.
3.4.1 General
Evaporation from water surfaces (lakes and reservoirs) and from land
(river basins) may be computed by:
1) evapor@et ers;
2) water balance method;
3) heat balance method;
4) aerodynamic method;
5) empirical formulae. List of symbols used only for evaporation

I Symbol I Meaning

area (of lake)
back (radiation)
bottom (of lake)
depth (of lake)
gross (radiation)
net (radiation)
potential (evaporation)
pan or tank
roughness (vegetation)
height of observation

Methods for urater bakrnce computations
Compukztion of Components


Symbol Meaning Units

empirical coefficients
specific heat of water
specific heat of air at
constant pressure
zero plane displacement m
balance duration para-
met er
e water vapour pressure mb
e* saturated water vapour
h specific humidity m3/kg
H sensible heat flux
J heat energy content per
unit surface area
k von Karman constant
K empirical coefficient
L latent heat of vapori-
zation of water
number of days in a month -
atmospheric pressure mb
albedo -
radiation Joule/m2
balance period time various
wind velocity ml sec
Bowen ratio -
ration of mole weights
of water & air (0.622)
Y psychrometric constant
r gradient of saturation
vapour pressure curve
against temperature
P density
e temperature

3.4.2 Evaporation from water surfaces Computation from evaporimeter data
Evaporation (EL) from lakes and reservoirs may be estimated from
evaporimeter data by

EL = K Ep (12)
where Ep is the evaporation from the pan or tank evaporimeter and
K is an empirical coefficient. It is normal to compute evaporimeter
coefficients on an annual basis, but in many comparison trials,
monthly coefficients have been computed.

Methodsfor water balance computations

Evaporimeters used in estimnting lake evaporation should be

installed either completely within or outside the area affected by
the evaporating lake surface and the coefficients to be used must
be selected accordingly.
There is a large range in the value of the empirical evapori-
meter coefficient K due to climatic, seasonal, instrumental and
observational factors, but the method can provide a useful first
approximation of annual lake evaporation and is applicable in the
prediction of evaporation from proposed reservoirs.
The average annual value of K for the USSR GGI-3000 evapori-
meter is 0.80, and for the US class A pan is 0.70 (WMO, 1966), but
observational errors and other deficiencies may give these values an
error of 2 0.10 in application. The value of K also varies re-
gionally in relation to climate, being lower than the quoted values
in the arid zone and higher in humid areas. Care should be taken
in selecting an appropriate value for the proposed application, and
use made of local or comparable data. For the USSR 20 m2 evapora-
tion pan the mean coefficient has been expressed in the form K =
KA&jKsh, where KA depends on the lake surface area, Kd on its depth
and climatic zone, and Ksh on the degree of shelter from wind;
values of these ocrrection coefficients are available in tables,
such as those shown in Gidrometeoizdat (1969).
Seasonal variations in the evaporimeter coefficient K are
usually large enough to preclude the use of a constant value. The
range of monthly coefficients depends on climate and lake depth and
may exceed 0.7 in extreme cases (Australian Water Resources Council,
1970a). It is therefore unwise to use equation (12) for the esti-
mation of monthly evaporation in the absence of knowledge of the
seasonal variation of K appropriate for the climatic zone and the
type of evaporimeter used. A table listing Class A pan coeffici-
ents determined by various investigations for several areas in the
United States is given in Gray (1970).
A refinement of the simple coefficient formula, which is suit-
able for estimating monthly or even daily lake evaporation, takes
account of the different water surface temperatures of lake and
evaporimeter. It can be expressed in the form

= K'
e*L - eZ
- e

where K' is a coefficient which depends mainly on the type of evapo-

rimeter (and slightly on lake area); 4
and e* are the saturation
vapour pressures corresponding to the maximum eemperatures just be-
low the lake surface and in the evaporimeter; and e, is the mean
vapour pressure measured at a height z.
For the US Class A pan evaporimeter and an observation height
z = 4 m y the value of K' is 1.50 (Webb, 1966). Computed daily
values of EL are summed to give the monthly evaporation.
For the USSR GGI-3000 floating evaporimeter and an observation
height z = 2 m, the value of K', given in Gidrometeoizdat (1969), is
0.88. Mean monthly values of 4,
e; and e, are used to compute the

Computotion of components

monthly evaporation.
A comprehensive guide to available techniques, with over 400
references, is contained in Australian Water Resources Council

3.4,2,2 E t e r balance method

The equation for the determination of evaporation from lakes and
reservoirs by the water balance method (Harbeck, 1958; Harbeck et
al, 1958; 'vikulina, 1965) is as follows:

EL = PL - ASL -k AQs + AQ,

where EL is evaporation from the lake or reservoir, PL is precipita-
tion on the surface of the water body, ASL is the change of water
storage in the water body, AQ, = (QsI -
Qso) is the difference be-
tween surface inflow and outflow from the water body, and hQu =
( Q u ~ Quo) is -thedifference between underground inflow and out-
flow (see Section 5.2).
The application of the water ba1anc.emethod is limited, since
in most cases the flow through the lake bottom cannot be measured.
However geological and other considerations may indicate that this
term is negligible compared with the other components of the water
balance, and it can then be omitted from equation (14). Over a
sufficiently long period the change in water storage also becomes
negligible compared with the other components, and the equation for
the total evaporation therefore becomes

E = PL + AQ

Thi.s value can be divided by the number of years of record to obtain

the mean annual evaporation. Equation (15) can also be used to
determine annual evaporation values for lakes which return to appro-
ximately the same level each year, and which also have negligible
water flows through the lake bottom. Heat balance method
This method ( W O , 1966) is used for the computation of evaporation
from the water surface (EL) if the data necessary for the determin-
ation of heat balance components are available. The equation of
heat balance for 1 m2 of the lake surface is
QQo Rn+Ha*ib-AJ * aJs * mu * Hp - JE )
where pw and L are the density and latent heat of vaporization of
water, R, is the incoming net radiation, Ha and Hb are the sensible
heat inflow at the lake surface and bottom, AJ is the increase in
the heat content of the water body during the balance period,
AJS = J,I - -
JSo and AJu = JU1 J,o are the difference between heat
input and output due to surface and underground inflow and outflow,
Hp is the sensible heat input due to differences between the.temper-
ature of precipitation and the lake temperature, and JE is the heat

Metbodsfor water balance computations

content of the water layer evaporated from the water body at the
given tem erature. Note that all terms must be related to unit
area (1 m )of the lake surface, i.e. each heat input or output for
the whole lake is divided by the lake surface area.
The net radiation (%) is given by

Rn=R (l-r)-R,,
where Rg is the gross incoming radiation (sum of direct and diffuse
solar radiation), r is the albedo of the water surface, and Rb is
the effective back long-wave radiation from the water surface.
Equation (16) requires many careful measurements to establish
the values of the different terms. At present it is more suitable
for research studies than for general use.
Another application of the heat budget method, which makes use
of the Bowen ratio (Anderson, 1954; Harbeck et al, 1958; Webb,
1960, 1965), can be expressed in the form

%=c-B 1 000 Rn
AJ + AJs + Mu
+ (c/L) (eo - e,)
where c is the specific heat of water, is the average temperature
of the evaporating water, 8, is the average temperature of the water
inflow which replaces evaporated water, and 6 is the Bowen ratio,
defined by
'Cp AOa
B=,L ~e
where p is the atmospheric pressure, cp, is the specific heat of air
at constant pressure, E = 0.622 is the ratio of mole weights of
water and air, and Aoa and A e are the differences of air tempera-
ture and vapour pressure, measured over the same height interval.
To evaluate U ,temperature soundings throughout the depth of
the lake (generally to 0'loC) must be made at a number of positions.
For medium and large lakes, the period between soundings must gener-
ally be at least 2-3 weeks, but in small lakes a shorter balance
period is possible.
Variation of the Bowen ratio during the balance period can
cause errors in EL, which can be eliminated if an approximate mea-
suremP-nt of the variation in wind speed is also available (Webb,
1964, 1965). Aerodynamic method
The aerodynamic method (also known as the method of turbulent dif-
fusion) is suitable only for sites where the necessary instruments
can be properly maintained and observed. It depends on aerodynamic
relationships connecting vertical fluxes with the mean vertical
gradient, and depends on assumptions regarding the nature of the
wind velocity profile above the lake surface (WMO, 1966).
Applied to a short time lliterval, the evaporation may be cal-
culated from


- 1 000 k 2pa (h2-hl) (u4 - u3)

EL = In (z2/zl> . In (z4/z3>
where EL is the evaporation in mm/sec, hi and h2 are the specific
air humidity at heights z1 and 22 over the evaporating surface,
u3 and u4 are the wind velocities at heights 23 and 24, k = 0.43
is von Karmans constant, and pa is the density of the air.
Equation (20) applies to a flat homogeneous surface without
horizontal moisture transfer (advection), and where equilibrium con-
ditions exist, i.e. the effects of temperature stratification in the
lower layers of the atmosphere can be neglected. The effect of
temperature stratification is of major importance at small wind ve-
locities (less than 3 m/sec), and when there is a great difference
(more than 5OC) between water surface temperature and air tempera-
ture at a height of 2 m. If the difference between the temperature
of water and air is less than 3-4OC, then the effects of temperature
stratification may be neglected at any wind velocity. Empirical formulae
There are many empirical formulae for evaporation, that may be divi-
ded into two groups:
a) formulae based on the dependence of evaporation from the water
surface on wind velocity and on the difference of vapour pressure
at the evaporating surface and at some height above ic (method of
mass transfer or bulk aerodynamic method) ,
b) formulae using climatological data, and usually based on the
approximate solution of the simultaneous equations of water and heat
balance (complexor combination method).
The most useful formulae of the first group are empirical bino-
mial formulae of the type
= (a + bu) (e: -
monomial formulae of the
EL = cu (e*s - ez)
and formulae of the type
E = a (e*
- e,)b
where U is the wind velocity, :e is the saturated vapour pressure
at the water surface, e, is the vapour pressure at an observation
height z, and a, b, C are empirical coefficients, which depend on
the dimensions and exposure of the evaporating surface, and the cli-
matic region.
When equation (21) is applied to the computation of daily eva-
poration from the water surface of the USSR 20 m2 evaporation tank,
with the wind velocity and vapour pressure measured at a height of
2 m above the surface, the coefficients have the values a = 0.15
and b = 0.108. Similarly for the US Class A pan, with the wind
velocity measured 150 mm above the water surface, a = 0.32 and

Metbodsfor water bakance computations

b =0.161 (Kohler, Nordenson et al., 1959).

Equation (22) has been applied to lakes in the United States
(Harbeck, 1962), with the wind velocity and water vapour pressure
both measured 2 m above the water surface. The mean value of C
(for daily evaporation) is then 0.131, but depends to some extent
.on lake area, as described in the reference.
Equation (23) has been used to compute daily evaporation in
Romania, where b = 0.85 and a varies between 0.42 and 0.82
(Stoenescu, 1969; Badescu, 1974).
The formulae of the second group use climatological rather than
meteorological data, and are generally applied to calculate annual
evaporation for lakes of medium or large depth, due to errors caused
by changes in heat storage in such lakes over shorter periods. They
may be applied on a monthly basis to shallow lakes, and in the case
of the combination formula, corrections may be applied (Kohler and
Parmele, 1967) to enable application on a monthly basis to deeper
lakes also.
Combination formulae (Penman, 1956; Slatyer and McIlroy, 1961;
Webb, 1965) are based on a combination of the energy balance and
aerodynamic transport equations, assuming that information about
vapour pressure and temperature at the surface is available. The
best known form is that of Penman (1956), which can be used to
estimate lake evaporation from
r 1000 Rn
Y cu (e; - ez) (24)
T + Y PwL T+Y
where r is the gradient of the saturation vapour pressure curve
against temperature, y is the psychrometric constant, R, is the net
radiation received at the lake surface, pw and L are the density and
latent heat of vaporization of water, C is the same constant as in
equation (22) (adjusted for the length of the evaluation period), U
is the wind speed at the observation height used for the evaluation
of C, :e is the saturation vapour pressure at the temperature
of the air at height z, and e, is the vapour pressure of the air at
height z.
The net radiation (%)required is that over the lake water,
and in general this will differ from net radiation measured over a
land surface. Appropriate methods of adjusting the incoming direct
and diffuse short-wave radiation are available (Anderson, 1954;
Van Wijk and Scholte-Ubing, 1963; Swinbank, 1963; Anderson and
Baker, 1967; Kohler and Parmele, 1967). Other references give
useful information on applying combination formulas In practice
(Hounam, 1958; Tanner and Pelton, 1960; Fitzpatrick and Stern,
1966; Van Bavel, 1966).
A nomogram approach to compute evaporation from lakes and
Class A pans has been developed by the U.S. Weather Bureau (Kohler,
Nordenson et al., 1955, 1959; Stall and Roberts, 1967).
To compute the mean monthly evaporation from lakes and reser-
voirs, the following formula (Gidrometeoizdat, 1969) is used in all
areas of the USSR:

Computution oj Components

EL = 0.14 n (es - ez) (1 + 0 - 72 uz)

where n is the number of days in the month, :e is the saturation

vapour pressure corresponding to the water surface temperature 8 ,
and eZ and uz are the vapour pressure and wind speed at a height
z = 2 m above the water surface. Note that ,:e eZ and uz are de-
termined from measurements taken over the water body, and averaged
for the whole month over the area of the water body.
If observations over the water body are not available, observa-
tional data of meteorological stations located on land are used.
The adjustment from land observations uIZt , e'Z 1 , B V z to the sorres-
ponding values uz, e, and 8, for the water body is made by

uz = K1K2K3 u z'
ez = el + K4 (0.8 es - el)
ez = e'z + K~ (e - e; 1

where U' is the mean wind velocity at the standard height Z ?

of the anemometer (about 10 m), and K K2, K and K4 are coeffici-
ents which depend on the laws of air tiow variation over the land-
water interface. The coefficients are obtained from tables in
Gidrometeoizdat (1969), relating K1 to the location and degree of
wind protection of the meteorological station, K to the character
of relief around the station, 4
to the mean win3 run above the
water surface and the degree of reservoir protection against wind,
and K4 to the mean wind run above the water surface and the relation
between the water temperature and air temperature. The numerical
values of the coefficients vary according to physiographic features.
For example, for stations located in the forest zone, 5
from 1.3 in grassed areas to 2.4 in the forest; and for stations
in open areas, from 1.0 in the steppe to 1.5 in towns and densely
populated areas. The coefficient K2 ranges from 0.75 when the
station is on top of a hill to 1.3 on the floor of a valley or de-
pression. For a reservoir with the shores covered by forest 20 m
high, the coefficient K3 varies, according to the area of the re-
servoir, from 0.25, when the mean length of wind run over the re-
servoir is 100 m, to 1.00 when it is more than 5 lan. The coeffici-
ent K4, under conditions of small differences between water and air
temperatures, ranges from 0.02 for a mean length of wind run of
100 m to 0.34 for a mean length of wind run of 20 lan.
In the absence of measurements, the water surface temperature
8 is estimated from the simplified heat balance equation
E=- 'Oo0 (R, + Ha + HB)
which is first applied to a hypothetical water body with a very
small depth and with water surface temperature equal to air temper-
ature, and then empirical corrections are introduced to adjust for

Methodsfor umter bakmce conrpututions

the water depth and the difference between air and water tempera-
ture,(Gidrometeoizdat, 1969). The value of et is then obtained
from 8. Effect of aquatic plants
Transpiration through the leaves of floating and emergent aquatic
plants may have a major effect on the evaporation from a lake or
reservoir. This effect is difficult to measure accurately, and
data derived from experiments under artificial conditions are un-
likely to be reliable indicators of natural situations. Direct
measurements of transpiration by aquatic plants in natural condi-
tions are also unlikely to be precise, if the method employed in-
volves isolation of the whole plant, or a part of it, as this inter-
f erence would almost certainly affect its transpiration rate.
The total evaporation from a water surface partially or wholly
covered by aquatic plants may be determined by direct application
of the water balance method (Section or the aerodynamic
method (Section The energy balance (Section,
Bowen ratio (Section and combination (Section
methods may also be adapted for this purpose, provided careful al-
lowance is made for the possible effects of the plants on the micro-
climate near the water surface.
The results of experimental work may be conveniently expressed
in the form of a correction coefficient Kpl, defined as the ratio of
the evaporation and transpiration from a plant-covered lake or re-
servoir, to the open-water evaporation that would have occurred
under the same. climatic conditions.
In humid regions, KP1
is generally gi-eater than 1; values
for floating plants such as Eichhornia Crassipes (water hyacinth)
or Salvinia molesta range from 0.45 to 6.6 (Penfound & Earle, 1948;
Little, 1967; Timmer & Weldon, 1967; Mitchell, 1970). For these
plants, values of KPl appear to increase with an increase in temper-
ature, a decrease in humidity, and an increase in the size and vigour
of the plants.
Experimental data for emergent plants, such as reeds, not direc-
tly related to open-water evaporation values, have been reported by
Rudescu et al., (1965), Burian (1971), and Haslam (1970); and by
Guscio et al. (1965) for Typha spp in the United States.
In the USSK, values of Kpl have been found to be independent
of the kind of vegetation, but can only be applied to mean seasonal
values for small to medium lakes and reservoirs. The correction
coefficients have been related to the area of the water body occup-
ied by the emergent plants. For forest and forest-steppe zones of
the USSR, the values of Kp1 arel.14, 1.22 and 1.3 for 50, 75 and 100
percent cover respectively. For steppe and semi-desert zones, the
corresponding values are 1.24, 1.37 and 1.5 (Gidrometeoizdat , 1969).
In contrast, measurements by Linacre et al. (1970) in Phrag-
mites and Typha stands in an arid region in Australia, and by Rijks
(1969) in African papyrus swamps indicate that E"pl may be less than
1 under conditions of lower humidity. The former workers consider-
ed that this was caused by a combination of factors, including

Computation of Components

sheltering of the water surface by the reed plants, their higher de-
gree of reflectivity (albedo) and their internal resistance to water
movement during dry periods. The presence of senescent and dead
vegetation may also be significant.
It is clear from these data that caution must be exercised in
miking assumptions about the effect of aquatic plants on evaporation
from water surfaces. In situations where the effect may be a sign-
ificant component of the water balance under consideration, a speci-
al program of measurements should be undertaken.
3.4.3 Evaporation from land
When computing the mean long-term evaporation from large plains ri-
ver basins, the most accurate results are obtained by the water bal-
ance method (Gidrometeoizdat, 1967). For mountain regions there
are no reliable methods for measurement of evaporation, and the usu-
al approach is to estimate the variation of evaporation with eleva-
tion and slope orientation, using direct measurements and computat-
ional methods. Computation from soil evaporimeter and lysimeter data
Monthly evaporation from the soil in individual months may be ob-
tained with the aid of weighing, hydraulic and other soil evapori-
meters and lysimeters of various designs (Toebes and Oury~aev,1970).
Since evaporation depends greatly on vegetation, soil cover and
other landscape conditions, these devices should be installed as
far as possible in each of the types of vegetation cover (field,
forest, etc.) which occupy the river basin. The mean evaporation
from the basin is computed from a knowledge of the area occupied by
the various types of vegetation cover. Measurements of evaporation from snow cover by evapori-
met er s
For river basins in middle latitudes which are completely or parti-
ally covered by snow every year, evaporation during snow cover
periods can be measured by weighing evaporimeters of special design
(Toebes and Ouryvaev, 1970). Water balance method
The water balance method gives evaporation as a residual term of
the water balance equation and is therefore subject to an unknown
error. The water balance method is most frequently used for the
computation of the mean evaporation from large river basins using
E = P - Q
For the determination of evaporation for a particular month
the water balance equation for the upper layer of the aeration zone
E * P - Qs -Quc+ -
QUP (31)
where Dl is the increase in soil water storage in the water balance
period, gC
is the ascending flow of water into the aeration zone

Methods for water balance compututions

from the capillary fringe of the water-table, and

v-is the down-
ward flow of water from the aeration zone to the wa er-table.
Methods for computing the net drainage term Qup Quc (Rose
and Stern, 1965) involve some difficult measurements and are not
suitable for routine use on the scale of a river basin. However,
in low rainfall areas it may be established that percolation from
rainfall does not reach the water-table and that the water-table
is sufficiently deep (more than 4-5 m) so that upward flows are
negligible. In these circumstances , equation (31) becomes
E = P - -
Qs AM (32)
Methods for estimating changes in soil moisture AM are described
in Section 3.5.3. Heat balance method
Starting from the simplified heat balance equation (29), and assum-
ing the same eddy transfer coefficient for water vapour and sensible
heat, the evaporation can be expressed as

where R, is the net radiation, Hso is the heat flux into the soil,
45 and L are the density and latent heat of vaporization of water,
and B is the Bowen ratio, defined in equation (19) (Section
This method is more suitable for use on research stations than
on a routine basis. As equation (33) does not take into account
the horizontal gradient of turbulent heat exchange (advection) , it
is restricted to use on large areas of flat land with uniform vege-
The use of the Bowen ratio does not take into consideration the
influence of temperature stratification. To minimize this inf lu-
ence, the gradients A0 and Ae should be measured as close as pract-
icable to the ground (under conditions of high radiation, the height
should be from 0.1 to 0.2 m and under normal conditions up to 1 m).
Equation (33) is not suitable for use in arid regions. Aerodynamic method
To determine evapotranspiration by the aerodynamic method, equation
(18) for a water surface is recommended. In this case, however, it
is necessary to take into account the influence of advection and
temperature stratification. To exclude the inf h e n c e of advection,
the measurements of gradients of vapour pressure and wind speed are
made on flat terrain with homogeneous vegetation. Brogmus (1952)
proposes methods for determining corrections for temperature strat-
if ication.
Because of the requirements of large areas of flat uniform vege-
tation (and soil water storage) and the difficulties of keeping in-
struments functioning properly over long periods, it is unlikely
that these methods can be used on a routine basis.

Computation of Components Empirical methods

Empirical methods for the determination of evaporation, unlike bal-
ance methods, are based on averaged meteorological data, such as
air temperature and humidity, wind velocity, cloudiness, and dura-
tion of sunshine. Some methods also use data on evaporation from
the water surface of an evaporimeter. The generalized combination method
The combination formula (Tanner & Fuchsp 1968; McIlroy, 1968; Fle-
ming, 1968; Australian Water Resources Council, 1970b) is derived
from the energy balance equation and the transport equations for
sensible and latent heat, and can be expressed as

where pw and L are the density and latent heat of vaporization of

water, r
is the gradient of the saturation vapour pressure curve
against temperature, y is the psychrometric constant, I$, is the net
radiation, Hso is the heat flux into the soil, pa and p are the
density of air and its specific heat at constant pressure, es and
e, are the water vapour pressure at the surface and at a height z
above it, :e and :e are the saturation vapour pressures correspond-
ing to the temperatures at the surface and at a height z above it,
T is the balance period, and f(u) is a function of wind speed. The
value of r is computed for the average of the temperatures at the
surface and at .a height z above it.
The value of f(u) is usually determined empirically for a par-
ticular type of vegetated surface and a limited range of climatic
conditions. Examples of such equations are given in the references
quoted. When the dimensions of the evaporating area are sufficient-
ly large, f (U) can be determined from wind profile theory, as in the
KEYPS profile (Sellers 1965) :

where k = 0.43 is the von Karman constant, uz is the -wind speed at

a height z, CP is the diabatic profile parameter, d is the zero plane
displacement, and zr is the roughness length. Values of d and zp
can be determined by experimental observations of the wind profile
near the vegetated surface under study. Over irrigated vegetation,
it is satisfactory to put CP = 0 (Tanner and Pelton, 1960; Van Bavel,
1966) e
When the evaporating surface is wet, e, = ,:e and the potential
evaporation E, is then given by

The potential evaporation is the evaporation which would occur

from any surface under a given set of meteorological conditions, if
there were a condition of non-limiting water supply at the surface.

Methods for mater balance computations

Equations (34) and (36) can be combined in such a way as to

eliminate the vapour pressure es at the evaporating surface, so
that the only surface measurement required is the temperature. The
resulting equation relating waporation to potential waporation is

For application of combination formulae to vegetated surfaces,

the net radiation Rn is usually measured directly with net radio-
meters (Fritschen and van Wijk, 1959; Funk, 1959), and the soil
heat flux Hso is either measured directly using soil heat flux pla-
tes (Monteith, 1958; Philip, 1961) or computed from the temperature
profile (van Wijk, 1963). Other empirical methods
In England, evaporation Eo from a large area of normally growing
closed grass cover, properly supplied with water, is linearly re-
lated to evaporation E from the water surface of the British'sunken
evaporimeter (Penman, f956) :

Eo fE=
The coefficient f for the south-eastern part of England varies
between 0.6 in the winter and 0.8 in the summer, with a mean annual
value of 0.75.
Blaney and Criddle (1950) proposed a formula suitable for the
determination of evaporation from well-watered vegetative cover:

Eo = 45.8 KIP (e + 17.8) (39)

where Eo is ,evapotranspiration from iirigated fields for a vegeta-

tive period,K is a coefficient determined experimentally for each
type of vegetation, D is the ratio of duration of daylight hours
during a particular month to its annual sum, and is the mean e
monthly air temperat ur e.
Numerical values of the coefficient K established by the auth-
ors (Blaney, 1954a, 1954b; Penman, 1963) for irrigated crops in the
western USA are given in Table 2.
Table 2. Values of Blaney and Criddle's K for various crops.

Crop or Farm Land

Duration of the Vegetative
Period (months)
Free-of-f rost period

0.8 0-0.8 5
Bean 3 0.60-0.70
Maize 4 0.75-0.85
Cotton 7 0.60-0.65
Flax 7-8 0.80 .

Cereals 3 0.75-0.85

Computation of Components

- -~
Crop or Farm Land Duration of the Vegetative K
Period (months)
Sorghum 4-5 0.70
Citrus 7 0.50-0.65
Walnut Free-of-frost period 0.70
Other fruit trees Free-of -f rost period 0.60-0.7 0
Pasture Free-of-frost period 0.75
Clover pasture Free-o f-f rost period 0.80-0.85
Potato 3-5 0.65-0.75
Rice 3 -5 1.00-1.20
Sugar beet 6 0.65-0.75
Tomato 4 0.70
Vegetables 3 0.60

The lower K value in the table for each crop corresponds to the
climate of coastal areas, and the higher K value to the climate of
arid zones.
Blaney and Criddle's method may be recommended for computing
evaporation from irrigated land in areas of little cloudiness. Ac-
cording to approximate estimates, the error of the method for mean
values of annual and growing period evaporation is of the order of
15 to 25 per cent.
Thornthwaite and Holzman (1942) developed the following equa-
tion for maximum possible monthly potential evaporation:-

Eo = 16 D' (7

where D' is the total monthly duration of daytime, expressed as a

ratio of 360 hours, a = 0.93/(2.45 -
In i), 8 is the mean monthly
air temperature: i is the sum of monthly values of temperature in-
dices i =(8/5)"614 for all 12 months of the year.
To compute the mean annual evaporation from catchment areas,
Turc (1955) proposed the formula

where P is the annual precipitation and Eo is the evaporation oppor-

tunity (maximum possible evaporation under given meteorological con-
ditions and sufficient soil moisture). Turc assumes that the value
of the parameter n is equal to 2 and determines Eo-as a function of
the mean air temperature e (Eo = 300 + 258 + 0.05 03). The same
equation may be used for the computation of evaporation from small
areas and for short periods of time; for this purpose, in formula
(41) P should be replaced by P + AM, where AM is the soil moisture
lost in the form of evaporation during the balance period.
Konstantinov (1968) has proposed a method for the computation
of mean evaporation in plains areas of water surplus and approximate
water balance, using air temperature and humidity measured at a
height of 2 m in the shelter of a meteorological station. The mean
annual evaporation is determined directly by a nomogram (Fig. 8)

Methods for w l e r balance compututions

Fig. 8. Graph for the computation of annual evaporation (nrmlyear)

from soil according to mean annual temperature (OC) and
air humidity, measured at an altitude of 2 m.

Computation of Components

relating it to mean annual values of temperature and absolute h w i -

dity. The values, determined by the nomogram, characterize eva-
poration from an area of several square kilometers surrounding the
meteorological station
Methods which e s t d t e evaporation from air temperature are not
reliable because of the seasonal lag between temperature and radia-
tion (which is supplying the energy). Estimating formulae should
take the energy balance into account either explicitly or implicitly. Methods used in the USSR
In the USSR, Budyko (1956) has developed methods to determine mean
evaporation from large areas for different types of surfaces, and
also for individual months and years. The mean annual evaporation
can be determined by means of

where is the mean annual precipitation, Rn is the net radiation on

wet vegetation, and pw and L are the density and latent heat of va-
porization of water.
Annual values of R, have been mapped and can be determined for
any given point. The relative mean square error of computation by
formula (42)is about 17%.
For Budyko's method for determining mean monthly evaporation,
it is necessary to have data on precipitation (P), runoff (Q), tem-
perature (0) and vapour pressure (e). Under conditions of water de-
ficit, the computation for summer months uses

E = E if MI + M2 2 2M0

The water storage in the upper 1 m layer of soil for the beginning
of the first warm month, MI, is approximately determined by a spec-
ially plotted map, while for all following months it is computed by
the formula

M = M + P - Q - Eo if M1 -k M2 2 2M0
2 1
The maximum possible evaporation (E,) is computed by special
nomograms, depending on the deficit of air humidity (e*2 -
e2) where
e2 is the vapour pressure 2m above the surface, and e2 is the satu-
rated vapour pressure at the air temperature 2m above the surface.
The critical water storage (Q) is determined by tabulated data de-
pending on mean monthly air temperature and geobotanic zone. The

Methods for water balance computations

relative mean error of computation of monthly evaporation by this

method is about 25%.
Daily evaporation from snow cover can be computed by the follow-
ing formulae (Kuzmin, 1953; Konoplyantsev, 1970).

E = (0.18
+ 0.98 ul0) (esn - e2) (45)

E = (0.24 + 0.04 ul0) (e2 - e2)
where 1110, ,e* e2,
* and e2 are the mean daily values of wind veloci-
ty, saturated vapour pressure corresponding to snow surface tempera-
ture and air temperature, and vapour pressure, respectively. The
numbers10 and 2 below the symbols indicate the height above snow sur-
face in metres at which the corresponding measurements are made.
Monthly evaporation from snow is determined by these formulae with
a relative standard error of about 30%.
Mean monthly evaporation from swamps is determined from the ra-
diation balance of the swamp surface (Romanov, 1961):-

E = $Rn (47)
where the coefficient I), which varies from month to month, is taken
from empirical tables, taking account of the type of swamp, while
the net radiation I$, (k-cal/cm2 per month) is computed by one of the
known methods using standard meteorological data.
Evaporation from forests in individual months of the warm sea-
son is computed by the equation

CE = * c Eo
where the coefficient $ is determined from the radiation index of
aridity c%/(L 1
P); Eo has the same value as in equation (43) and
is determined by the same nomograms depending on the deficit of air
humidity; Q is here the net radiation of the surface with differ-
ent surface covers (meadow, fallow land, etc.), measured at meteoro-
logical stations. The sums CEO, CR and CP are computed by consecu-
tive summations beginning with the first warm m0nth:separately for
May (V), then for two months, May and June (V-VI), then for three
months, May, June and July (V-VII) , etc. up to the end of the last
warm month -
May-September (V-IX). From the sums CE determined by
equation (48), evaporation from a forest for an individual month,
say for July, is determined by

To determine evaporation from irrigated areas, the heat balance

method is used. The evaporation is given by

Computation of Components

where the net radiation Rn is determined directly, and the value of

heat flux into the soil (Iso) is computed from measurements of soil
temperature at depths of 5,100, 150 and 200 mm. Combining the solu-
tions of equations (33) and (49), the following is obtained:

-- A0C R +-~ H~,)

which is used
0.10 kcal/cm2 per min, A8>0.loC, Ae >, 1 mb.
to compute the turbulent heat flux when (R, Hso) >

If (G
the turbulent
- Hs) < 0.10, or one of the valuesA0 or Ae is negative,
heat flux is determined from

H~ = 1.35 me (51)

The gradients A0 and de and the coefficient of turbulent exchange K

are determined from experimental data on wind velocity, temperature
and humidity of the air at two heights above the zero surface (0.5
and 2 m). The term zero surface refers to the level at which
wind velocity equals zero.
The relative standard error when determining lO-day values of
evaporation by the above heat balance method is 15%. The magnitude
of errors of computed evaporation values is determined by reference
to the values obtained with soil evaporimeters and lysimeters or to
those calculated by the water-balance method.
3.4.4 Maps of evaporation
On the basis of computed values of evaporation obtained usually by
the water balance method, maps of evaporation from river basins are
drawn from which evaporation from unstudied basins is determined.
Methods are described by Nordenson (1968); W O (1970b) ; Gidrometeo-
izdat (1967).
Maps of evaporation from water surfaces are usually plotted
from evaporimeter data.
3.5 Variations of water storage in river basins
3.5.1 General
As was mentioned in Section 2.2, variations of water storage in a
river basin must be taken into account both when computing the water
balance for short periods of time (individual year, season, month,
or shorter period) and when computing mean seasonal and monthly
water balances.
All the terms of the water balance equation which characterize
water storage variations are determined by calculating the differ-
ence between water storage at the end and at the beginning of the
balance period.
Water storage in river basins includes

Methods for mater balance computatiom

(a) water storage on the surface of the basin (Ss);

(b) water storage in soil and in the unsaturated zone (M); and
(c) ground-water storage (G) .
In temperate and cold climates with stable snow cover, the
main water accumulation takes place in winter, while in warm and hot
climates it occurs during the rainy season. Water balances of the-
se two types differ in that solid precipitation accumulated in the
form of snow cover in the first type forms runoff only after a long
delay, while in the second type the liquid precipitation joins the
hydrological process immediately upon falling or after a short delay.
3.5.2 Surface water storage
Accumulation of water on the basin surface is composed of:
(1) rain water, detained in micro-depressions;
(2) water storage in the solid state (snow cover, firn fields,
glaciers) ;
(3) water storage in the hydrographic network (river channels,
lakes, reservoirs, swamps). Detention of water in micro-depressions
Accumulation of water in micro-depressions (in puddles and pools aft-
er rain and showers) usually does not last long, and is therefore
difficult to take into account and measure accurately. This water
is quickly lost by evaporation and by infiltration into the soil, so
that it is taken into account by other terms of the water balance
equation. Water storage in the solid state
Variations of water stored in snow cover are evaluated by regular
snow surveys along special routes, covering the river basin as even-
ly as possible and taking into account the characteristic features
of the terrain.
The techniques of measurement and computation of snow storage
are described in the literature ( W O , 1970a; Kuzmin, 1960; Toebes
& Ouryvaev, 1970).
Methods for evaluation of water storage variations in f irn
fields are given in Section 5.5. Water volume in lakes and reservoirs
Water accumulation in lakes and reservoirs depends on the capacity
of the water bodies, the area of lakes in the basin and the ampli-
tude of water-level fluctuations in the balance period.
Lake storage should be taken into account if there is as much
as 2-3% of lake area in the basin.
To compute water volume variations in lakes and reservoirs, use
is made of curves relating the water volume in the lake to the mean
To ensure the computation of the mean water-level for large
lakes and reservoirs to an accuracy of 10 m, it is necessary to ob-
tain information about water -levels from a rationally located,net-
work of gauges, which takes into account the special features of the
water body and,, if possible, excludes the distorting influence of

Computution of Components

relative water stage fluctuations.

Relative fluctuations of levels of lakes are caused by seiches
and wind-induced set-up, and in reservoirs, also by long period
waves caused by the unsteady operation regime of power plants. To
exclude the effect of wind-induced set-up and seiches, water gauges
on large shallow lakes and wide reservoirs are located near the
centre of gravity of the water body ("axes of equilibrium"), where
relative water-level fluctuations are small. On long river reser-
voirss where a considerable slope of the water surface is periodi-
cally observed, the gauges are installed on the banks along the re-
servoir (Figs. 9, 10). For mountain lakes characterized by a com-
plex circulation of air fluxes over the water surface and where
movement of the water mass in a single direction is consequently
not observed, the gauges are located on the periphery of the lake
and on islands so that local level fluctuations can be excluded.
To compute the change of water volume ASz in the lake or reser-
voir its mean water level is determined for the given date. The
mean water-level of shallow lakes and wide reservoirs is obtained
directly from the readings of a gauge (or gauges) affected as little
as possible by the wind. The mean water-level of river reservoirs
is determined separately for reaches with different slopes of the
water surface. The mean water-level of deep lakes is determined as
the weighted average of the readings of all operating gauges.
The volume of water in the water body for the given date is de-
termined from the mean water-level and the curve relating volumes to
wat er-level s.
The change of water volume for the balance period is calculated
as the difference between water volume at the beginning and at the
end of the period.
For reservoirs with a distinct slope, separate stage-volume
curves for each reach are used, i.e. the water volume is determined
for separate reaches by the arithmetic mean water level obtained
from readings of gauges located on the given reach.
If there are several lakes or reservoirs in the riser basin,
the change of water volume is determined for each lake or reservoir
For all tater bodies, and especially for reservoirs and lakes
where fluctuations of the water level result in large variations of
the surface area, the mean water level may be accurately determined
only if there is reliable altitude co-ordination of all the gauge
datums. In the USSR, the method of water levelling is widely used
to co-ordinate gauge datums (Karaushev, 1969). This method helps
to avoid inconsistency of gauge readings and enables the establish-
ment of a comon zero datum for all gauges operating on the water
body. Channel storage in a river basin
The following specific symbols are used in this section:

Symbol Meaning Units

b p bzs 6, C, 11, (i, K empirical coefficients var ioti s

Methods bahnce

Fig. 9. Scheme of gauge location and axes of equilibrium for the

Rybinsk Reservoir. The axes of equilibrium correspond to
the wind direction: 1. northern and southern; 2. western
and eastern; 3. north-western and south-eastern; 4. north-
eastern and south-western; 5. gauges.

Fig. 10. Diagram of the location of gauges and axes of equilibrium
on the Kuibyshev Reservoir. The axes of equilibrium corres-
pond to the wind direction: 1. northern and southern;
2. western and eastern; 3. north-western and south-eastern;
58 4. north-eastern and south-western; 5. gauges.
Computation of Components

Meaning Units

slope of water surface per thousand

distance of site from lal
mouth of river
drainage area ratio
discharge per unit basin
stream velocity m/ sec
lag (travel) time for sec
a stream reach

Estimates of the change of channel storage in a river basin are

made only for periods of flood rises and falls and for months when
there are considerably different discharges between the beginning
and the end of the month.
For the estimation of channel storage in drainage networks, it
is convenient to subdivide them into large, medium and small (Nezhi-
khovski, 1967). A large drainage network is assumed to include all
river channel stretches which are bounded upstream by gauge lines
situated at equal distances (1) from the river mouth (where 1 is 50,
100 or 150 lan) and downstream by the outlet gauge. All the rest of
the drainage network is treated as medium or small.
In drainage basins with an area between 15000 and 100000 lan2
and with a fairly dense observational network gauge lines are chos-
en at a distance of 100 km from the mouth. In the case of a more
sparse observation network, the distance is 150 lan. For smaller
basins (less than 15000 Ian2) 1 is taken as 50 km and for large bas-
ins (more than 100 000 km2) 1 is set at 150 lan.
The large drainage network so defined is subdivided in its turn
into river sections without lateral inflow, with their ends at the
mouths of large river arms. If such division is impossible the
boundaries of the sections should be at the gauging stations.
The channel storage for a section j is estimated from the mean
discharge Qj in this section at the specified date, and the lag time
Tj .
To estimate Qj in a section with hydrometrical data available
the following procedures are applied:
(1) estimation on the basis of stream discharge Qj at the gaug-
ing station located in a section with low lateral inflow

= m QIj (52)
where the coefficient m represents the ratio of drainage area above
the middle of the section to the area of the drainage basin above
the gauging station.
(2) If there are no big tributaries in the section the mean
stream discharge is estimated as the arithmetic mean, i.e.

Qj = T1 (QjI + Qjo)

Metbodsfor water balance compukztions

where Q and Q are the discharges at the upstream and downstream

ends ofjthe sect!?on. The storage volume Vj for the section is then
calculated from

where rj is the lag time (mean travel time) for the section between
the gauge lines.
If there is a comparatively large tributary within the section,
carrying about 50% of the total inflow, the mean stream discharge
of the section is estimated with weighting coefficients, and equa-
tion (53) becomes

V. = [KQ + (1-K) Q. 1 C. (54)

J jI 30 3
The weighting coefficient K is estimated from

K = 0.5 - (0.5 - 11/1) al/a (55)

where 11 is the distance from the upstream gauge line of the section
to the mouth of the tributary, a1 is the drainage area of the tribu-
tary and 1 and a are the length and the area of the whole section.
At the confluence of several rivers, for instance, two of a
similar size (Fig. U),V is estimated by

where Q1, Q2, Q3 are the stream discharges at the upper gauge lines
of the tributaries and at the lower outlet line respectively, and
the coefficients bl, b2, 6 may be estimated from the following equa-

bl = rjl + Tj3 - 61
b2 = Tj2 + Cj, -6 (57)

where rjl, ~ j 2 ,~ j are

3 the values of the lag times of the corres-
ponding subsections and a1 and a2 are the drainage areas of the up-
per subsections.
Approximate estimates for channel storage in the medium and
small drainage network are obtained from

where 4
is the mean discharge per unit area estimated for small re-
presentative rivers, and t, the mean basin stream velocity in mfsec,
is estimated as the arithmetic mean of stream velocities of three or
four similar rivers the length of which is < 50, 100 or 150 lan; A is
Computation of Components

Fig. 11. Sketch of a section of river confluence explaining the

procedure of channel storage estimation using equations
(56) and (57).
Methods for water balance compututions

the area of the whole basin, C and D are factors computed for plains
rivers in the USSR (Table 3). More approximately, the mean stream
velocity f may be estimated as the arithmetic mean of stream veloci-
ties U', computed for similar rivers from

U' = 0.75 d' nh0.25

x i 0.38

where i is the mean slope of the water surface during the low flow
period in metres per thousand metres, hax is the average maximum
discharge estimated from observational data, or in their absence,
from the data of similar rivers, and d is a parameter taken from
Table 4. The total channel storage for a specified date is comput-
ed by summing the values of the water storage in the large, medium
and small drainage network, i.e.

The change in the channel storage AVc., is calculated as the

difference between the total volume of channel storage in the basin
at the beginning and at the end of the balance period.
The volume scorage AVch is then converted to an equivalent dep-
th Asch (equation (4), section 2.6) for use in the water balance
The above techniques of channel storage estimation may be re-
commended for basins with areas over 3000-5000 km2. In smaller
drainage areas the values of channel storage are generally insigni-
f icant .
3.5.3 Soil moisture st.orage
Evaluation of soil-moisture storage and its variations in the unsat-
urated zone is done on the basis of measurements of soil moisture by
weighing or neutron methods (Bell and McCulloch 1966; Cope and Trick-
ett, 1965; Kharchenko, 1968; Toebes and Ouryvaev, 1970; Rode, 1967).
For accurate water balance studies, the observations of soil
moisture must cover the whole depth of the soil mantle down to the
water table, or when the water table is more than 4 m deep, down to
the greatest depth penetrated by a wetting front. This depth de-
pends on the climatic regime, but will not usually be less than 4 m
(Kachinski, 1970). Soil moisture content may be approximately eva-
luated on the basis of measurements of soil moisture in the upper
1 m layer.
To evaluate variations of total water content, or water content
in different layers in the whole basin or in its separate parts, it
is necessary to determine the optimum number of measurement points,
which may enable the computation of mean water content with a given
accuracy (Kovzel, 1972; McGuinness and Urban, 1964).
Soil moisture observations are carried out as single surveys of
soil moisture during characteristic periods of the year. The result-
ing data are processed by standard statistical methods.
When using the gravimetric method, the number of observation
points established depends on the required accuracy of determination

Compulalion of Components
0 CO PI 0 0 rl G W N O m
rl .....
U3 CO rl CO PI
W W U3 v) m
0 0 0 0
0 0
0 0
m ? 1 cu t
* *
0 0 m m m
rl * m * *
0 cu v) cu rl
* m m
9 9
0 0 0 h
m ooocu?
W mmrl rl
0 g
W W r- r- CO U
I @
r- CO m rl rl 6
rl rl
0 F3 0 0
0 Ll
0 0 0 0 0 U
a, 3
a rl
Ll 2 a,
U a,
m m
I a,
rd U
a, aI
Ll a
a a, a, a -4 w
Methods for water bahnce computations

of water storage. The error in the determination of the mean water

content in a lm layer of soil involving 8-10 soil samples, usually
does not exceed 10-15% of the mean value.
When using the neutron method the determination of the water
content for selected sites (with an area ranging from several hund-
red to several thousand m2) is made by means of several bore holes.
The determination of the moisture variation in the upper soil
layer is made at all observation points of the river basin. The
water content in the zone of aeration is determined for the whole
basin as a weighted average in mm of water depth.
Observations of soil moisture in the zone of aeration between
the lm layer and,tlie ground-water level are rarely made, since ob-
servations are 'carried out usually in the upper root zone. However,
sometimes in the lower layer of the ground a considerable accumula-
tion of water may occur. For longer balance periods suchan accu-
mulation may be transformed into other water balance components
which can be measured. For shorter balance periods, the neutron
method is the most satisfactory method of sampling to depth.
3.5.4 Groundwater storage
(Special symbols used in this section are listed at the beginning of
Section 5.4).
In computing the water balance of river basins, the variations of
ground-water storage (AG) are evaluated from field data collected
from observation points, usually wells, and values of the coeffici-
ent I). In the case of falling ground-water levels, v represents
the coefficient of specific yield vSz, and in the case of rising
ground-water levels represents the saturation deficit vuz of the
ground and soil above the capillary zone. Computation of ground-
water storage variation is done separately for periods of falling or
rising ground-water levels. For approximate computation, ground-
water storage variations may be evaluated for any period of time pro-
vided the saturation deficit is equal to the coefficient of specific
Ground-water storage variations for a homogeneous area are com-
put ed by

AG = v . A5
where AG
is the average variation of ground-water level for the area.
Changes of ground-water levels for a designated period in a
basin are determined by computing the difference between average
levels at the beginning and at the end of the designated period.
Ground-water levels are measured in wells, making allowance for the
effect of the topography and the characteristics of water-bearing
layers. For basins with homogeneous hydrological conditions the
mean level is calculated as the arithmetic mean, while for basins
with heterogeneous hydrogeological conditions it is calculated as a
weighted (mean. In basins with heterogeneous hydrogeological con-
ditions there can be considerable local variations in the ground-
water regime with ground-water storage increasing in some parts and
decreasing in others. These differences are not taken into account

Compukztion of Components

by using the mean value of ground-water level changes for the whole
basin. Ground-water storage variations must be evaluated for each
different part of the basin within which hydrogeological conditions
are homogeneous.
The division of the basin area into areas with different types
of ground-water level fluctuations results in a more accurate compu-
tation of weighted mean values of level fluctuation, even when few
wells are available to provide data.
Statistical techniques of data processing should be used in
choosing the optimum number of observational points for evaluation
of ground-water level fluctuations. This may not be possible in
areas with few wells.
To evaluate ground-water fluctuations caused by meteorological
factors the coefficients of correlation between water-levels in wells
are computed for wells situated at different distances from each
other. This permits the determination of the degree of synchronism
of level fluctuations in basins, for which ground-water storage var-
iations are computed, as well as the representativeness of individu-
al observation points for different parts of the basins. Such a
regional analysis of hydrogeological observational data provides the
most objective evaluation of general changes of level at the chosen
observational points (Popov, 1967). Further information on net-
works is given in Mandel (1965) and Jacobs (1972).
Thus in a basin less than 100 lan2 in area with depth to ground-
water not greater than 5 m. in the forest zone of a temperate cli-
mate and under homogeneous hydrogeological conditions, the ground-
water storage may be computed with 10% accuracy if there are about
10 observation points for each aquifer. If the depth to ground-
water is much greater than 5 m. the number of wells may be less.
The saturation deficit (vUz) is computed as the difference be-
tween the total moisture capacity and the natural moisture of mater-
ials in the zone of ground-water fluctuations, determined on the
basis of field data(Krestovski and Fedorov, 1970). Specific yield
(Vsz) for sandy and loamy materials is determined by computing the
difference between the total moisture capacity and the minimum field
capacity; for sandy rocks the maximum molecular moisture capacity
may be substituted for the minimum field capacity. The above
values are determined by measurement of the moisture content of sam-
ples of the material taken above the level of the ground-water. When
computing the specific yield Vsz it should be taken into account
that even completely saturated materials may contain entrapped air,
the volume of which may be 4 to 10% or more of the porosity of the
Where material in the zone of ground-water fluctuations is lay-
ered or stratified, V is computed as a weighted mean value by means
of the equation


where V is the specific yield of an individual layer of material of

thickness di, and Ah is the variation of water-level corresponding

Methods for water balance compulutions

to the thickness di 1 .
For a river basin or a large region with heterogeneous hydroge-
ological conditions, ground-water variations are computed by divid-
ing the region into relatively homogeneous sub-regions, computing
the change in storage in each sub-region, and adding the sub-regional
storage changes to obtain the total for the region.
In some cases the variation of ground-water storage, or mean
value of Vsz for river basins, may be determined by establishing the
relation of ground-water inflow to the river to the average ground-
water level in the basin. For this purpose ground-water levels and
discharge at the outlet are measured during stable low flow periods
(periods of base flow). Curves are drawn relating discharge per
unit area of basin at the outlet, q, to the mean ground-water level
in the basin, 5. If the discharge from the saturated zone into the
zone of aeration is not great, the mean value of ground-water storage
Vsz above the outlet may be calculated by the equation

The mean value of ground-water swrage, vSz , is evaluated individua-

lly for different rock layers.
If no field determinations of Vsz are possible a first approxi-
mation can be obtained from the values of specific yield presented in
Table 5.
More detailed information on the measurement of ground-water
storage in river basins is given by Lebedev (1963), Popov (1967),
Toebes and Ouryvaev (1970), VSEGINGEO (1968), and California Dept. of
Water Resources (1963).
TABLE 5. Mean value of specific yield of rocks
(in parts of the unit)
Very fine sand and loamy sand 0.10 - 0.15
Fine sand and clayey sand 0.15 - 0.20
Medium sand 0.2 - 0.25
Coarse and gravely sand 0.25 - 0.35
Sandstone with clay cement
Fractured limestone
-- 0.10


4 .I Variability of main water-balance components
Water-balance components can be considered as random variables in
time and space. For example, the time series of annual precipita-
tion or discharge is a random variable in time, and precipitation or
evaporation at some point in the basin is a spatial random variable.
In mathematical statistics, observed values are considered as sam-
ples of a random variable, that is, as independent samples from an
infinite population. Each random variable has its own distribution,
usually unknown, and in some cases it is assumed or deduced by some
hypothesis, but in others it must be discovered by observation.
The measure of dispersion of a set of observed values 3 (i=l,
2,...,n) relative to the mean ? = X./n is the standard deviation
i=l 1
sn-1=-J i=l (64)

where n is the number of observed values and is called the sample

size,-because we consider the Xi as samples from a population. The
mean X and the standard deviation s of a set of samples tend to the
population mean 11 and the population standard deviation o respective-
ly when the sample size n tends to infinity. Therefore in the case
of a large sample size (n > 25) we may assume that s is nearly equal
to o and use s instead of 0. Nore precisely, it is better to use
the following unbiased estimate s' for the estimation of o.

However, the difference between s and s' is negligible compared with

the sampling error of s and s'. The standard deviation is usually
only computed when the sample size is more than 10, because s and s'
are not reliable for small samples. The standard deviation 0 is
expressed in the same units as the value Xi (mm, mm3/s, k d etc.).
This makes the comparison of variability between different series
difficult, since the value of 0 depends on the value of individual
terms of the series Xi and their mean value X. The coefficient of
variation Cv is used to indicate the relative dispersion and to com-
pare the degree of variability of different populations. It is the
ratio of the standard deviation to the mean and is a dimension-
less number:

cv = olp (66)
In practice, Cv is computed by s/g or s'/x.
The mean and the standard deviation are important because we
can see the approximate outline of the distribution from them. For
example, in the case of a normal distribution where the probability
density function p(x) is given by

Methods for water bahnce compututions

the probability that a sample falls In the interval (U-ko, p+ku)

where k = 1,2,3 is:

(U-0, (U-20, (U-30,

distribution u+0) U+20) p+30:
distribution p(x) = E
1 - (x-U>2
202 68.3

distribution p(x) = { l/a -a/2<x-p<a/2
o Ix-pl>a/2
57.7 100 100

triangular {(:/a) I
(1-lx-U /a>
distribution p(x) =
x-l~ <a 65.0
x-v >a
96.6 100

exponential -(x/a) x a
distribution p(x) =
/ (:Ia) e x< 0
86.5 95.0 98.2

r -(x/a)x>,O
a type of
distribution p(x) =
14""" e x< 0
73.8 95.3 98.6

It may be assumed for large samples that the relative frequen-

cy is nearly equal to probability, and X and s (or s') are nearly
equal to p and CT. Therefore, for a set of numerical values of
large size with a histogram of bell-type lwith or without skewness),
the number of elements contained between X s and
- -
+ s is about
213 of the total, the number between ? 2s and 2 + 2s is about 95%
of the total, and almost all elements are contained between i? 3s -
and + 3s.
Usually the distribution of a hydrological time series such as
annual precipitation or runoff shows considerable skewness and it is

VatMbility and accuracy

reasonable to assume r-distribution given by

x = 0

x c 0,
where the mean 1.1, standard deviation a and coefficient of variation
C,, are given as follows:

Table 7 presents the relation between the probability P and the mod-
ule coefficient K = X/p, where P is the probability that a sample is
greater than X = pK for the r-distribution. Table 7 shows, for ex-
ample, that the module coefficient of a wet year (of 1% frequency or
probability once in 100,years) equals 1.25 when the coefficient of
variation is 0.10 and that it is 4.60 when the coefficient of varia-
tion is 1.00.
TABLE 7. Module coefficients of different frequencies
for different coefficients of variation.

Frequency, %
of variation

1 3 10 25 5C 75 90 97 99

0.10 1.25 1.20 1.13 1.07 1.00 0.93 0.87 0.82 0.78
0.20 1.52 1.41 1.26 1.13 0.99 0.86 0.75 0.66 0.59
0.30 1.83 1.63 1.40 1.18 0.97 0.78 0.64 0.52 0.44
0.40 2.16 1.87 1.53 1.23 0.95 0.71 0.53 0.39 0.31
0.50 2.51 2.13 1.67 1.28 0.92 0.63 0.44 0.29 0.21
0.60 2.89 2.39 1.80 1.31 0.88 0.56 0.35 0.20 0.13
0.70 3.29 2.66 1.94 1.34 0.84 0.49 0.27 0.14 0.08
0.80 3.71 2.94 2.06 1.37 0.80 0.42 0.21 0.09 0.04
0.90 4.15 3.22 2.19 1.38 0.75 0.35 0.15 0.05 0.02
1.00 4.61 3.51 2.30 1.39 0.69 0.29 0.11 0.03 0.01

In the case of basins where underground water exchange with ad-

jacent basins may be disregarded, the relation E = P Q and Qs = Q -
- :Q are valid for the means of long-term periods, where QA = Quy
Qu1.1 (see Fig. 12, Section 5.2). The standard deviation and the
coefficient of variation of E and Q, can be expressed as:

where rpQ and rQs; are the correlation coefficients between precipi-
tation and total runoff, and between total runoff and underground
runoff, respectively, and E and os
are the mean values of wapotran-

Variability and accuracy

spiration and surface runoff. Table 8 presents an example of a

computation using equation (71).
TABLE 8. Example of the evaluation of space variations of normal
annual surface runoff for the West-Siberian plain.

Data for computation zomputat ion

result by
Natural equation (71

141 0.45 48 0.64 0.94 93 0.39
For est- 40 0.70 6.1 0.56 0.77 33.9 0.75
Forest- 22 1.02 2.6 1.08 0.51 19.4 1.09

Equations (70) and (71) may be used for the study of spatial
variability of water-balance components in any geographical zone and
region and for rivers and sea basins, as well as countries and con-
t inent s.
Equation (71) may also be used for the study of the variability
in time of the annual surface runoff, since the same relation Qs = Q
- Qu holds for annual runoff, as for a long-term period(this holds
for humid zones, but may be less valid as the annual precipitation
decreasas) .
4.2 Estimation of the accuracy of measurement and computation of
water balance components
There are systematic and random errors during hydrometeorological
observations and during the processing of results, due to defects
in instruments and methods of measurement. Systematic errors,
caused mainly by the methods of observation and the design of in-
struments, may be avoided by correcting the observed data during
processing ( W O , 1970a). Random errors are dependent on many un-
known causes and may be taken into account only statistically (Gid-
rometeoizdat , 1970).
Systematic errors of measurements of precipitation, runoff and
evaporation can be avoided with the aid of various correction coef-
ficients obtained by comparing the readings of standard and refer-
ence instruments.
After each water-balance component has been measured, its error
can be estimated using the following theorem:
Let Xi (i=l ,...,n) be a set of independent random samples of
size n from a population having a population mean vand a population
standard deviation 0. Then the sample mean

Methods for water balnnce computations


il = 1
is also a random variable, that is it varies by chance, and its
distribution is nearly equal to a normal distribution of mean 1.1
and standard deviation GI&.
This theorem gives an important equation for the standard de-
viation of the sample mean
iz = 1 xi/"
of a sample size n.
6- = a/&

When n becomes large, a/& becomes small, and therefore Z falls

near to p. Thus for large sample, the sample mean X may be assumed
to be 1-1.
In accordance with the properties of the normal distribution,
the reliability of the sample mean
il = 1
is represented by its standard deviation a/&. As the distribut-
ion of X is the normal distribution of mean and standard deviation
a/&, the probability that the difference between and is less z
that k6/& (k'= 1,2,3) is given as follows:
probability that ti? - p1<0/& : 68.3% (about 213)
probability that - p1<26/6: 95.4% (nearly all)
probability that - pI<30/&: 99.7% (almost all)
Thus we can assume that the difference between i? and p is less than
36/& with very few exceptions. In most cases we do not know the
true values of p and 6, which would be obtained from a very large
population. In practice we use the sample standard deviation s
(or s') instead of 6, and we represent the reliability of the sample
mean by SI& or sf/&. The iifference between the unknown true
value of 1-1 and the sample mean X will be less than 3 s l 6 (or 3sf/
&) with very few exceptions.
Table 9 presents the relative standard error of as a percen-
tage, computed from

where n is the sample size (or the length of a time series) and Cv
is the coefficient of variation, and & is the standard error 616.
Table 10 presents an example of the computation.
The above statistical methods for evaluation of random errors
are equally suitable for all components of the water balance which
are obtained as arithmetic means of observed values.

Variability and accuracy

In the study of the water balance, the areal mean of precipi-

tation, snow storage, evaporation, soil and ground moisture, etc.
are estimated from the data of point observations. The areal mean
is estimated either as a simple arithmetic mean or as a weighted mean.
A simple arithmetic mean is used in the case where observation points
are distributed evenly and the spatial variation of the given balance
element is smooth over the area, usually in plains regions. A wei-
ghted mean is used in the case where the observation points are dis-
tributed unevenly and the spatial variation is great-, usually in
mountain regions. To determine the weights for the weighted mean,
the area A is divided into sub-areas ai corresponding to the set of
observation points, such that the value Xi of the observation at
each point is representative of the corresponding area ai. Then
the weight wi is given by Wi = aiICai = ai/A. In some cases, the
sub-area is determined by the Thiessen method which is convenient
but has no theoretical basis. Another method is by plotting iso-
lines. A review of methods available is given by Rainbird (1967).
Generally speaking, the reliability of the weighted mean incre-
ases with the number of observation points, because random errors of
different signs compensate each other while summing up weighted va-
Mathematically, the areal mean of a water-balance component
X(x,y) can be expressed in the form of a double integral:

z=x J/x (x ,y) dxdy (74)

where X(x,y) is a function of the Cartesian coordinates (x,y),A is
the domain of integration and A is the area of A. However, as the
function is unknown, we can not determine the true value of z,
can obtain only an approximate value with some error from the exis-
ting network of observation points. Plotting the isolines of X may
in some rarecases suggest a simple form for the function X(x,y) such
as a plane or a conical surface, but this approach should be used
with great caution.
In the simplest case the relative standard error of the areal
mean value may be determined by means of equation (73), the use of
which is justified when the observation points are distributed even-
ly and the variable at each point is equally reliable and independ-
ent. This condition holds for large homogeneous plains with an ob-
servation network in which each point is sufficiently distant from
adjacent points.
There are some computational schemes for the evaluation of the
errors of the areal mean value, in terms of the statistical strut-
ture of fields of hydrometeorological elements (Karasseff, 1972;
Kagan, 1972a,b,c; Strupczewski, 1970). To derive these techniques,
some assumptions are necessary, such as homogeneity and isotropy of
the field, the functional form of the correlation coefficient in
terms of distance, etc. In most cases the above assumptions are
only partially justified or are not justified at all, which neces-
sitates an approximate evaluation of errors of areal mean.
Sometimes experimental measurements of some balance components
(precipitation, snow storage, evaporation and others) are made in

Methods for water balance computntions

special experimental basins each with a dense network of observa-

tion points. These measurements provide computation tables or
graphs which permit the waluation of the error as a function of
area and network density. As a rule these tables and graphs are
applicable only under certain physiographical conditions and un-
critical application to other regions may result in erroneous con-
clusions concerning the error of the areal mean of the components
under study.
TABLE 9. Relative standard errors of mean values, depending on the
number of observations (n) and the coefficient of varia-
tion (Cv), expressed as a percentage of the arithmetic
mean for n observations.

20 40 60 80 100
0.10 3.2 2.2 1.6 1.3 1.1 1.0
0.20 6.3 4.5 3.2 2.6 2.2 2.0
0.30 9.5 6.7 4.7 3.9 3.4 3.0
0.40 12.6 8.9 6.3 5.2 4.5 4.0
0.50 15.8 11.2 7.9 6.5 5.6 5.0
0.60 19.0 13.4 9.5 7.7 6.7 6.0
0.70 22.1 15.7 11.1 9.0 7.8 7 .O
0.80 25.3 17.9 12.6 10.3 8.9 8.0
0.90 28.5 20.1 14.2 11.6 10.1 9.0
1.00 31.6 22.4 15.8 12.9 11.2 10.0
1.10 34.8 24.6 17.4 14.2 12.3 11.0
1.20 37.9 26.8 19.0 15.5 13.4 12.0
1.30 41.1 29.1 20.6 16.8 14.5 13.0
1.40 44.3 31.3 22.1 18.1 15.7 14.0
1.50 47.4 33.5 23.7 19.4 16.8 15.0

TABLE 10. An example of accuracy evaluation in computing the norms

of water balance components (the basin of R. Vasyugan for
the period of 32 years).
Annual values
Statistic characteristics
and their symbols
precipitation runoff evaporation

mean long-term value,it mm 533 157 376

variation caef f icient , C, 0.10 0.28 0.11
standard error,O.mm 53.3 44.0 41.4
absolute standard error of
Znrm 9.43 7.78 7.33
relative standard error of
ZX 1.8 5.0 2.0

5.1 River basins
5.1.1 General
River basins are the main subject of water-balance research and com-
putation. On the basis of water balances of individual river bas-
ins, generalized water balances are computed and water resources ev-
aluated for different countries, regions and continents.
In the water balance equation of river basins all the balance
elements are mean values for the basin.
To compute the water balance of a large river basin (e.g. hun-
dreds of thousands km2) with different physiographic features, the
basin should be divided into an appropriate number of areas (sub-
basins) for which water balance computations are made individually.
The water balance of the whole basin is computed from weighted ave-
rage values of the main water balance components of sub-basins. If
the water balance is computed for a small river basin (no more than
1000-1200 h2), characterized by balance regime (grassland, forest ,
irrigated or drained lands, swamps, glaciers, etc.), then the com-
ponents of the water balance should be determined by taking into
account the specific water balances of these areas. The computa-
tion of specific water balances for individual areas is made when
these land types cover more than 20-30% of the total basin area.
For mountain river basins it is necessary to consider the ef-
fect of altitudinal zones on the distribution of water-balance com-
ponent s.
5.1.2 Mean water balance of a river basin
Computation of mean water balances of river basins for a complete
annual cycle (calendar or hydrological year), which is the main
form of water-balance computation, provides initial information on
basin water resources. As stated in Sections 2.2 and 2.3, the
water balance equation of a closed river basin for a long-term per-
iod may be presented as

P-Q-E = 0 (75)
In some basins which exchange a considerable volume of under-
ground water with adjacent basins, the terms QU1 of underground in-
flow and Quo of underground outflow must be inserted in equation (75).
Ground-water exchange can be evaluated by means of special obsenra-
tions (see Section 5.4).
Mean annual precipitation (F) and discharge (Gs) can be obtain-
ed from observational data; therefore, in the absence of signific-
ant ground-water exchange with adjoining basins or the sea, the
value of the mean annual evaporation from the basin is reliable if
it is obtained from equation (75):
If river water is used on a large scale for primary or second-
ary industry, the term Q, for water removal for economic purposes
and the term QB for return water must be inserted in equation (75).

Methods for una& bakance Computations

In recent years in the USSR a differentiated water balance equ-

ation for a long-term period has been used, in which total runoff
(Q) is separated into surface (flood) runoff (Q,) and underground
runoff into rivers (Q:), i.e. Q = Qs + (Nauka, 1969; Lvovitch,
1973). Thus, equation (75) is presented as

On the basis of this equation it is possible to define:

N=P-Qs=X+E; KU =L
; % = N
N (77)

where N is the total infiltration (gross moistening); Ku is the co-

efficient of river flow due to ground water, indicating the propor-
tion of annual infiltration forming underground runoff into rivers;
KE is the evaporation coefficient. The total infiltration of an
area, with the exception-of losses of rainfall and snow melt water
by infiltration, includes evaporation from the water surface and ev-
aporation of water wetting the drainage basin surface and accumulat-
ing in micro- and mezo-depressions. These two sources of precipi-
tation losses are quite considerable in regions with a high percent-
age of lakes and forests, particularly in flat drainage basins with
a great number of depressions.
Table 11 gives an illustration of the results of water-balance
computations using equations (75) , (76) and (77). The separation
of the total runoff into surface and underground runoff is made by
runoff hydrograph separation (see Section 3.3.3). The total infil-
tration (gross moistening) is obtained by computing the difference
between precipitation and surface runoff from equation (77).
The general water balance equation (1) is transformed with re-
spect to the specific features of the water body under study and to
the duration of the balance period into equations (78) and (79).
The mean monthly or seasonal water balance equation of a closed
river basin is

P-Q-E-ASL - ASch - ASsn - AM - AG - % + Q g -11'0

When solving the equation it is essential to take into account the

mean variation of moisture storage in the basin for these periods
(see Table 12).

Water balance of water bodies
m rl rl 0
h h 4
U) U) U) m
CO U) rl m
* m * 0
e * U) m
-la pur U)
N 0 h U)
h CO U U)
rn m rl
0 * N
al U) ?I a3 U)
U rl U) 4 U)
G cn h W m
a W h 00 N
9 U) * m U)
cv 0
2 ?
U) W CO m
m U) U)
m. *rl
c 4 0
O m 0 0
m 0 0
? $ h
Nul 0 0
N U U) W
T!: T! U)
m m 4 0
h U3 CO N
0 t
?I e
0 0 0 0
U) 0 0 0
W N h 0
N +
Methods for water balonce compututions
o u o 0 0 0 ln rl N
0 0
0 - 0 0 0 0 rn rl N
C O L J I - rl
ln u
0 0
O C O L D e N rl CO
m I 3
U h
orlo 0 PI N
rl 0 m
ln r l p z ln N N
rl I
& d
a >
W a m
W ccd
5 Q
0 0
Water balance of water bodies

In the case of an unclosed river basin, or any arbitrary land

area, the surface (QS1) and underground (Qur) water inflow from ad-
jacent areas should be added into equations (75), (76) and (77).
Then the mean monthly or seasonal water balance equacion is as fol-
lows :
P-Q-E-As~-As -AS -AM-AG-Q, +Q +Q +QUI- ?') = 0 (79)
ch sn B SI
where ASL is water storage variation in lakes and other closed de-
pressions; bsch is water storage variation in river channels; AS
is variation of water equivalent of snow cover; AM is variation OSn
water storage in the upper lm of the soil; AG is ground-water stor-
age variation; Qa is water withdrawal from the river for economic
needs and water removal to other areas; QB is return water; QSI
is surface-water inflow from adjacent areas; QU1 is ground-water
inflow from adjacent areas and includes quantitatively undetermin-
ed balance elements and measurement errors i.e. the balance discre-
pancy Q = AM' + V I , where AM' is variation of water storage in the
soil mantle beneath the upper lm layer and q' is the unassigned ba-
lance discrepancy.
Mean water-balance computations (Table 12) indicate that the
value of undetermined elements of the water balance and the measure-
ment errors for some seasons may be considerable. However, with
an increase in the water-balance period, some undetermined balance
elements can pass to subsequent seasons and become measured compon-
ents of the water balance equation. The annual value of the water
balance discrepancy (11) in the case described in Table 12 is 12 mm,
or 2.1% of the recorded precipitation. This value includes unmea-
sured water balance elements, such as underflow and the portion of
sub-surface runoff which is not drained by the river channel.
Precipitation and all other components contain sampling and
measurement error. The water balance discrepancy is just that,a
discrepancy in computed values. Even if there were no discrepancy,
there still would be error. The water balance discrepancy is not
a measure of the magnitude of error. If such is desired, an error
analysis should be made for each component (see Section 4.2).
5.1.3 Water balance of a river basin for specific time intervals
The water balance of a closed river basin in the temperate zone, for
a specific time interval, is computed from equation (78), and the
water balance of an open river basin or of an arbitrary land area is
computed from equation (79).
Equations (78) and (79) are suitable for water-balance computa-
tions for seasonal, monthly and shorter time intervals. When the
water balance is computed for years and seasons, the term ASch is
excluded from the equation since its value becomes negligible, and
in the case of water-balance computation for the calendar or hydro-
logical year, the term ASsn is equal to zero and is also excluded.
Water-balance computations of a river basin for seasons of a parti-
cular year are presented in Table 13.

Metbods for uxrter balauce computations

TABLE 13. Seasonal water balances (mm) of a river basin.

The Khoper River at Besplemianovsky. Drainage Area
44900 km2 1959 -
1960 Hydrological Year.
Water-Balance Sym- Winter Spring Autumn Hydrologi-
Components bol s :December (March- (Septa- cal year
February May ber-No- (December-
vember November)

Precipitation P 250 119 162 131 662

Runoff QS 7 115 9 7 138
Evaporation E 10 150 23 9 60 459
Snow storage
over the %ill
93 -93 - 0
Moisture con-
tent varia-
tions in the AM 57 -28 -40 44 33
storage AG 27 33 -37 3 26
Water removal
from rivers
1.0 1.0 2.0 1.0 5.0
.for economic QU

Return water 0 0 1.0 0 1.0

into river QB
balance ele- n 55 -59 -10 16 2
ments and

Water balance of wter bodies

As in the case of the mean water-balance computation, the annual

discrepancy is not great, amounting to only 2 rnm or 0.3% of the pre-
cipitation amount.
The role of different components in the water balance of river
basins in the temperate zone may vary in different months and sea-
sons. During winter months without thaw, when evaporation is small
and soil moisture is in a frozen state, the.role of these components
is minor, while the role of snow storage on the basin surface is
quite considerable. In spring the role of runoff due to the thaw-
ing of snow accumulated in winter is very important, as is the role
of moisture storage variations in the soil, underground, and in the
river channel network. In summer, evaporation is of the utmost h-
portance. The above considerations should be taken into account
for an accurate computation of water-balance components averaged
over different months and seasons.
5.1.4 Forests and forested basins
The scientific and practical importance of water-balance studies and
computations relating to forest plots is mainly due to the necessity
of determining the hydroclimatic role of the forest and of assessing
the effect of forest-cutting, reforestation and forest development
measures on the water regime and water resources of forested river
basins (Smith et al., 1974). Such studies are also important for
the estimation of possible changes in the transport of water in the
atmosphere due to deforestation of large areas,
Water-balance studies of forests and forested river basins are
carried out on .water-balanceplots, with an area ranging from sever-
al hundred to several thousand square metres, located within the
forest. The plots should be artifically isolated from the surroun-
ding area by a watershed divide wall (from the surface down to the
aquiclude). It is essential that the plots are, as far as possible,
representative of the surrounding forest terrain. Depending on the
variety of types of vegetation and soil within the forest terrain,
one or several plots are used. Forest terrain
The general water balance equation written for water-balance compon-
ents in closed forest terrain is

P + P2 + P3 - Qso -
Bo -
- El - E2 E3- ASS-AM-AG- = 0 (80)
where PI is precipitation over the forest terrain penetrating throu-
gh the canopy; P2 is precipitation intercepted by the canopy, P3
is precipitation flowing down the stems of trees; Qso and Quo are
surface and underground outflow respectively from the forest terrain;
E1 is evaporation under the canopy; E2 is evaporation or precipita-
tion intercepted by the canopy; E3 is transpiration of trees; ASs
is water storage variation on the forest terrain surface; AM is
water storage variation in the upper 1 m soil layer; AG is ground-
water storage variation; q is water balance discrepancy (0 = AM' +
Qup i- V', where AM' is water storage variation in the aeration zone

Methods for mater balance computations

below the upper 1 metre layer and down to the zone of saturation,
Qup is percolation beyond the zone of saturation, and n' is the un-
assigned balance discrepancy).
Precipitation penetrating through the canopy (Pi) and precipi-
tation flowing down the tree stems (P3) are determined by special
methods (Sopper and Lull, 1967; Luchshev, 1970).
Precipitation intercepted by the canopy (Pp) is computed as the
difference between precipatation falling over the forest terrain (P)
(see Section 3.2.4) and the sum of precipitation penetrating through
the canopy (PI) and precipitation flowing down the stems (P3), i.e.
P2 = P - PI - p3
Surface and underground outflow (QSo and Quo) from forest plots
are measured by means of weirs or measuring tanks equipped with water-
level recorders (Popov, 1968; Rothacher and Miner, 1967).
Evaporation from the forest terrain is determined by methods of
water balance, heat balance and turbulent diffusion (see Section 3.4.3
and Penman, 1967).
Evaporation from the forest terrain (E) may be presented .in the
following way:

where E is evaporation under the canopy; E2 is evaporation of pre-

cipitation intercepted by the canopy; E3 is transpiration.
Evaporation under the canopy (El) consists also of three com-
ponents :
El = E; + E; + E; (83)

where Ei is evaporation from the soil; E; is evaporation of precip-

itation intercepted by the ground cover (moss, low bushes, grass);
E3 is ground cover transpiration.
Depending on the type of forest and on the taxonomic characte-
ristics of the forest stand (composition, age, density) the ratio
between evaporation components will vary (Fedorov, 1969). In all
cases, however, transpiration and evaporation of precipitation inter-
cepted by the canopy comprise the major part of the total evaporation.
In order to determine evaporation under the canopy, weighing
evaporimeters (Toebes and Ouryvaev , 1970) are installed according
to the geobotanic map of the forest plot, and the evaporation is
computed as a weighted mean.
Evaporation of precipitation intercepted by the canopy may be
determined as the difference between precipitation over the forest
canopy (P) and precipitation measured under the canopy (Pi), taking
into account precipitation flowing down the stems of trees (P3);

E2 = P - PI - P3 = P2 (84)
Treestand transpiration on the forest plot is determined by
E3 = P1 + P3 - Qso - Bo- Qup - El - A S s - ~ - ~ ' - A G (85)

Water bakznce oj w t e r bodies

The equation of evaporation for forest terrain under snow cover

in winter may be written as

where E;' is evaporation from the snow cover under the canopy; Eh'
is evaporation from snow intercepted by the canopy; E$' is transpi-
ration of trees in winter.
Evaporation from the snow cover under the canopy may be measured
by special snow evaporimeters as described by Kuzmin (1953). Its
value is on the average one-third of the value of evaporation from
treeless terrain.
Experimental data obtained in Valdai (USSR) indicates that, for
that region, evaporation from snow intercepted by the canopy of de-
ciduous trees may be considered equal to 2-3% of the total solid
precipitation falling on the forest. Evaporation from snow inter-
cepted by coniferous trees is determined by the equation:

E;' = p - pi' (871

where P is precipitation over the forest and P'' is solid precipita-
tion measured by precipitation gauges installea under the canopy.
In the same region, winter transpiration is less than 1% of
transpiration during a warm season and may be disregarded. There-
fore evaporation from a forest in winter may be presented as the sum
of evaporation from the snow cover under the canopy and evaporation
from snow intercepted by the canopy, i.e.

Computation of evaporation from forests using the heat balance

method is described by Baumgartner (1967), Penman (1967), Rauner
(1.962) and Sopper and Lull (1967). (See also Section
Use of equation (85) should be made with a certain caution. In
effect, this method involves many measurements which can only be
made with the greatest difficulty. The method is thus more approp-
riate for small-scale water balances in research projects.
Initial data for the computation of evaporation from forest ter-
rains or forested basins using the heat balance method may be obtain-
ed by means of gradient masts installed in the forest and equipped
with meteorological and actinometric instruments. The masts should
be located in the forest at a distance from the forest edge which
is 50-60 times tree height.
Observations made in the Valdai area show that monthly sums of
evaporation from the forest area may be equated with potential eva-
poration. Empirical formulae may be used for approximate computa-
tion of potential evaporation from the forest (see Section
In temperate zones of the USSR with distinct warm and cold sea-
sons, evaporation from the forest area during the cold period with
snow cover is computed by equations (45) and (46), developed for
open land (Kuzmin, 1953). To determine evaporation of snow cover

Methodsfor water balance computations

under the forest canopy and of snow intercepted by the canopy from
evaporation in open land, the results obtained from the above equa-
tions are multiplied by an empirical transition coefficient (1.25).
Evaporation from forests in the temperate zone in the transition
months (April, October, November) is equated with potential evapor-
Moisture content in the unsaturated zone and ground-water sto-
rage are determined in accordance with the recommendations given in
Sections 3.5.3 and 3.5.4. Forested basins
The principal aspects of a water-balance study of a forested basin
are essentially the same as for the forest plot.
Investigations of the water balance of a forested basin can be
made if large-scale topographic, hydrogeologic, soil and geobotanic
maps are available. Observations of the basin's precipitation, run-
off, ground-water level and soil moisture are made, together with
lysimeter and meteorological observations and determination of the
hydrophysical properties of the soil and underlying rock.
Evaporation from basins is computed as a residual term of the
equations of water or heat balance, or by empirical methods (see
Section 3.4.3).
In order to determine soil moisture content in the unsaturated
zone, gravimetric or neutron methods are applied.
Ground-water storage variations over the basin are computed
from ground-water level fluctuations and water yield coefficients of
the aquifers (see Section 3.5.4).
Table 14 gives an example of the results obtained from computa-
tion of the seasonal and annual water balance of a small forested
watershed in Valdai.
5.1.5 Irrigated and drained land Irrigated land
Water-balance studies on irrigated areas are conducted with a view
to :
(a) improving the norms and regime of irrigation so as to enhance
the productivity of irrigated land, and
(b) assessing the changes in the water balance and water resources
of river basins which provide water for irrigation.
Irrigated areas may be subdivided hydrologically into well dra-
ined land with underground runoff predominating among outflow com-
ponents of the balance, and poorly drained lands without underground
runoff. On the basis of climatic features, it is possible to dis-
tinguish between the arid irrigation areas, where irrigation water
is the predominant water-balance component and the zone of approxi-
mate water balance, where precipitation may be as important as irri-
gation water. Every region is characterized by specific relations
between the water-balance components, and their study enables the
forecasting of secondary salinization and formation of swamps, and
indicates measures required to prevent these events.
The water balance equation written for an irrigated field from

Water balance of w t e r bodies
CO cow 0
rl m 4 hl
m m o w
m wp. e
CO m o 4
rl rlm 0
M $9
.. (d
( d o h
rl a du o i 4
P'rlCO 0 U
m a 0
$ 4 0 U d H
a, a 5 4
U E O ( d
td 0 s x
5 u a o
Methods /or water balance compututions

the soil surface down to the aquiclude, for any time interval, may
be expressed in the form

where 13, 14, I5 are respectively the inflow of irrigation water on

the field surface, outflow of irrigation water from the field and
irrigation water removed through canals; 11 and I2 indicate water
inflow due to filtration from arterial and from irrigation canals;
QS1 and Qso are the natural inflow and outflow of surface water;
QMI and QMO are inflow and outflow of soil water in the unsaturated
zone; QU1 and Quo are inflow and outflow of shallow ground water;
Qui and 8 2 are inflow and outflow of ground water from lower aqui-
fers; E is evaporation from the land surface; E1 is evaporation
from the water surface in canals; AS is water storage variation on
the surface and underground.
The term AS is formed by several components:

AS = ASsn + ASs + AM + AG (90)

where ASsn is water storage variation on the soil surface due to snow
accumulation; AS, is water storage variation on the soil surface due
to water accumulation in depressions, AM is water storage variation
in the unsaturated zone; AG is water storage variation in aquifers.
AS,,, AS, and AM are computed as differences between the values of
respective elements at the end and at the beginning of the balance
period. To compute AG the water balance equation for ground water
is applied:

AG = QUP - Quc + QUI - Quo) + (QU1 - Qu2)

where Q is ground-water recharge due to infiltration of precipita-
tion an! irrigation water, and Quc is ground-water discharge into the
unsaturated zone (see Fig. 12, Section 5.4).
A brief description of the methods for estimation of the compon-
ents of equations (89), (90) and (91) is given below.
Precipitation is measured by standard precipitation gauges.
Irrigation water is gauged by hydrometric devices (flumes, weirs) in-
stalled in canals, or by volumetric methods, and by current-meters.
Similar means are applied to determine the surface inflow and outflow
of water from the field. The field is isolated by a special furrow
or wall, and a gauging station is established in the lowest part of
the field. Evaporation, ground-water discharge into the unsaturated
zone and ground-water recharge due to infiltration of precipitation
and irrigation water are important components of equations (89) and
(90). All these elements are measured by lysimeters.
Where the water table is located at a depth of more than 3-5 m,
weighing evaporimeters (Ouryvaev and Toebes, 1970) are used to study
evaporation. Evaporation is computed by the heat-balance method or

Water bahnce of water bodies

determined using lysimeters. Simultaneous observations are made of

the state of crops on the field. Phenological observations aid in
the evaluation of the results of lysimetric observations and i.n the
application of these results to agricultural fields (taking into ac-
count the state and density of crops in the monoliths and on the
field) .
Ground-water inflow and outflow are estimated by hydrogeologi-
cal methods. Drainage runoff is usually evaluated using hydrometric
methods similar to those used in the estimation of surface runoff.
In the case of ground-water recharge under pressure, the separation
of drainage runoff into infiltration and pressure components is made
by studying the hydraulics of the ground-water flow using large num-
bers of piezometers. The distribution of the network of observa-
tion wells and piezometers over the plot under study should corres-
pond to the topography, hydrogeological conditions and the distri-
bution of water collecting under drainage canals and irrigation net-
Moisture storage variations LM in the unsaturated zone are usu-
ally determined by the gravimetric method or by neutron and other
soil moisture meters. Soil water inflow and outflow are usually
disregarded. Other water balance elements are determined by rout-
ine methods.
On the basis of water-balance computations, measures can be taken
to control water, salt and heat balances of agricultural fields.
For irrigation farming purposes the water balance equation is
usually solved for the term AS or its component LM, i.e. moisture
storage variations in the unsaturated zone. The result is used to
determine dates and amounts of subsequent watering. In this case,
for practical purposes it is sufficient to determine the main water
balance by assuming that such components as inflow and outflow of
surface and soil water, water exchange with lower aquifers, etc, are
zero for short time intervals.
Table 15 gives the results of a water balance computation for
an agricultural field in the temperate zone for 10-day intervals
during the growing period. Drained land
Water-balance studies of swamps and marsh lands are conducted with
the aim of providing a hydrological. basis for drainage reclamation
measures and for the evaluation of their effect on the water resources
and water balance of river basins and of individual regions.
Swamps and mineral lands, on which water logging is caused by
impeded surface and ground-water runoff, require drainage.
Investigations of water-balance components are usually carried
out on a small river basin or on an agricultural field of the drain-
age system.
The water balance equation for a reclaimed basin for any period
of time can be expressed as:

Methods for water balance computations
- - -
*co N m m co W 0 m rlo W
cob W
N m
*I I
mco m o m co In 0 m * I n 0
E! rlb m c o c o I rl
e m
O b b
* * rl
0 *
\ O N
H rlm U) o m m rl 0 m erl 0
H orl rl O W W m 0 0 N N m
4 r l N r l r l +
2 5 eo * oe e d o

N N b b
0 rl
H m o m 00 0 b 0 co e e b
H r l r l m m rl
a H eo e o w CO e 0 m N r l mI
H r l r l rl I I r l
h I I
I H bo b O W
0 4
r l m
I r l
rl I I I
bo m m e m W O W m
B b
r l r l
b m *
r l r l
e N W 0
m H
a 0 W o m m m m c o
H r l r l U * N
AI rl
H W O W m b \D 0 0 W I n 4 rl
a H 0 0 e m In m N W rl
rl 4 4 I
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W H m o m oe e N 0 rl c o r n rl
m m rl m I N rl
rl I
c coo co * 0 In mI
r l r l
W r l
m r ,
*rl H
&I H * o e o m m rl 0 W b m coI
M H m I n e e rl N I r l
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9 H
0 0 0
r l r l * e m
r l m
I 1
e \ D o

H -0 O W
i r l W
I I -3T
m %
O W 3
% % SI B 4t
c a
U *- :
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Id 3:c Id
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01 2a &8I U
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1 *


m a
4 s
Water bahnce of water bodies

where QS1 and Qso are inflow and outflow of surface water; QU1 and
Quo are inflow and out.flowof shallow ground water; Qui and Qu2 are
inflow and outflow of ground water from deeper aquifers (vertical
ground water exchange); E is evaporation; AS is soil moisture var-
iation on the surface and underground; q is the balance discrepancy.
The measurement of individual balance components of the reclaim-
ed basin is made by methods applicable to ordinary river basins.
Total inflow (QsI + QUI) to the basin from higher areas and run-
off (QSo + Quo) from the basin are measured on the canals of the dr-
ainage network by the same methods as applied for irrigation canals
Table 16 gives an example of the computation of the water bal-
ance of a reclaimed basin; drained swamps of the basin are used as
agricultural fields (Shebeko, 1970).
In the above example, precipitation, evaporation, drainage run-
off and water storage variations in the unsaturated zone were mea-
sured, while water exchange with layers below the drainage level of
drainage canals (Qu2 Qul) was computed as a residual term of the
water balance equation. When this computation method is applied,
the water exchange value inevitably includes errors in the determin-
at ion of water-balance components.
The water balance equation of the unsaturated zone of the drain-
ed agricultural field is composed of the same terms as in the equa-
tions for an irrigated field (89) and (90). The ratios of water-
balance components however , will be different .
The measurement of the water-balance components of drained
agricultural fields involves the same methods as for irrigated lands.
5.2 Lakes and reservoirs
According to the nature of the water balance, lakes can be divided
into two main categories: open (exorheic) lakes with outflow, and
closed (endorheic) lakes without outflow. Lakes with intermittent
(ephemeral) outflow during high water stages constitute an intermed-
iate category.
The water balance equation for lakes and reservoirs for any
time interval may be written as follows:

Q,,+ QUI + PL - EL - Qso - Quo - ASL - TI = 0 (93)

where QsI is surface inflow into the lake or reservoir; QUI is grou-
nd water inflow; PL is precipitation on the surface of the lake,
EL is evaporation from the lake surface; Qso is surface outflow
from the lake or reservoir; Quo is underground outflow including
percolation through the dam; and ASL is the variation of water stor-
age in the lake for the balance period.
For large lakes and reservoirs the surface inflow QS1 is usual-
ly subdivided into inflow Qm from the main stream and lateral inflow
Q1, i.e.

Qs, = a, + Ql (94)

Methods for wter balance compufutions
m ul In I- rl U 0
m rl 0 W rl m m
I I rl I I
r4 m 0 m 0 m
m 0 m m 4. In 0
rl rl rl r4 d rl W
I I I I I I rl
0 CO
a m m In r4 O In CO
$4 W I- U) W 0 \o 0
1 U U U m U 4. 4.
$4 I
3 r4
VI m U e4 r4 m U m
P) P)
8 e a
52s 5 5
4 I rl I I I
5 (dXd$4(d
ES P) 3 M.3 I I
P m 0 In r4 W CO
U) rl rl In r4
a I I
rl I
0 G W U 0 m m b m
N m m I- rl rl
$4 3% rl rl rl rl
0 I
a, 0 6 m
U a0 PI rl In
In P-
N I- \o PI r(
(d -4
? U
m In In U * In
$4 d
U .?8 U In m r4
5 CJd
* In
z! N
4. In
4 0 rl N m 4.
\o U) \o \o U) a,
m QI
Water bakance of water bodies

For lakes and reservoirs with a surface area varying consider-

ably during water-level fluctuations, it is preferable to express
the components of the water balance equation in volumetric measure-
ments. For lakes with a constant surface area it is more conven-
ient to express water-balance components as a depth of the water
layer relative to the mean surface area of the lake.
The mean surface area is estimated as an arithmetic mean for
the balance period.
The mean water balance equation for open (exorheic) lakes and
reservoirs, for which it can be assumed that AsL = 0, is as follows:

QSI + QUI + pL = Qso + Quo + % (95)

In cases where the underground runoff components (QU1 and Quo)
do not contribute significantly to the balance, they may be neglect-
ed and equation (95) may be simplified to
-- Qso (96)
QSI + pL + EL
The equation for mean water balance of a closed (endorheic)
lake is comprised of only three terms:

QsI + PL = EL (97)
Equation (97) may be applied for an approximate evaluation of
the water resources of small endorheic lakes, using data on precipi-
tation and runoff (inflow) only; if there are no direct measure-
ments of these elements, they may be determined by means of regional
maps indicating their long-term values. E is obtained from the
water balance equation as a residual term, and includes errors due
to any difference between QUI and Quo.
With the construction of numerous reservoirs on rivers, it be-
comes necessary to obtain daily hydrological information on the rate
of inflow and water storage in these reservoirs, i.e. a compilation
of current water balances for short time intervals such as months or
10 day periods (Vikulina, 1970). The shortening of the balance
period requires more detailed computation and detailed accounting of
additional water-balance components, such as: accumulation of water
in channels and f lood-plains of submerged rivers; bank storage dur-
ing the filling of the reservoir and return of this water back into
the reservoir when the water-level in the reservoir is lowered;
water losses due to ice left on the shore during falls of water-lev-
el in winter, and the return of these temporary losses in the form
of Qoating ice in spring.
For an approximate computation of the water balance or the
purpose of routine control of water inflow and outflow, the simpli-
fied water balance equation is used:

cI = Q + ASL
where 11 is the sum of input components of the water balance equa-

Methods for water balance computations

tion; Q is discharge through the structures at the lower pool, com-

prising the sum of water discharges through the turbines, spillways,
and locks, and infiltration through the dam; ASL is the variation
of water volume in the reservoir during the balance period.
Computation by the simplified equation is suitable only for
small reservoirs with intensive inflow and outflow (high rate of
water exchange) and for which discharge through hydroelectric power
plants and surface water inflow are the most important components of
the balance. For reservoirs with a large water area, the error of
estimation of ASL may exceed the daily inflow and in this case the
simplified scheme cannot be applied. For the water-balance compu-
tation of very large lakes a special research programme is usually
developed to take into account the physiographic peculiarities of
the water body.
Methods for the investigation and computation of the water bal-
ance of some large lakes are described by Afanasiev (1960), Baulny
and Baker (1970) , Malinina (1966) , Sekachev (1970, Gidrometeoizdat ,
(1967), Blaney (1957), Harbeck (1958), and Harbeck et al. (1958).
Tables 17 land 18 indicate the results of water-balance computa-
tions of some lakes and reservoirs and Table 19 gives monthly water
balances of one of the reservoirs for a particular year.
The accuracy of computation of the water balances of reservoirs
and the minimum allowable balance period are dependent upon the ac-
curacy of estimation of the basic water-balance components, i.e. sur-
face inflow and water storage in the reservoir.
The relative error CL of water storage changes compared to the
inflow is expressed as a ratio

where AL is the water surface area of the reservoir; Sh is the error

of mean level estimation, and V = 86400 QIT is the inflow (QI is
water inflow, m3/sec, and T is hration of the balance period in
From investigations on large rivers and reservoirs of the USSR,
the mean error of the hydrometric estimation of inflow and outflow
is t 5%, and the error of mean level measurements used for the com-
putation of storage changes is -+ 10 mm.
Equation (99) can be used to determine the length of the bal-
ance period that will ensure that the relative error CL is not more
than 2 5%, i.e. it is within the limits of accuracy of hydrometric
estimates of runoff.
If CL is much less than 5% due to increase of inflow (e.g. dur-
ing rainfall or snow melt), it is possible to reduce the length of
the balance period. In this case, T is reduced in such a way as to
ensure the condition CL <5% at the given discharge.
5.3 Swamps
Investigations of the water balance of swamps are important for the
selection of the most effective means of reclamation and for the

Water balance oj tuvlter bodies
Ln a3 0 m o 8
rl CO -a m d o 0
ul a3 m w o w (9
4 d W d r i d
I 1 cu I I I I
e m 0 m m 0 0
e a I- Q d O 0
m I-. e w o w rl
rlrl N
rl ul 0 0
I-- l
n ul 0
rl eo hl
4 I I O rn
ul CO 0 m m 0 0
ri a3 e - 4 0 0
v) a3 m w o w m
4 ri rid 4
or- a3
I I rid I cn
v) hl
I-. 0
m rl
1 I
I-- e 00
I-- rl
0 r. 0 0 0 0 0
0 r. 0 0 0 0 0
0 ul 0 m u l e 0
a3 0 a3 m d o 4
ul hl h l w 4 m
hl d ri e
Methods for W&T balance compututiom

m I: m
w a rl
k a a
.rl a
$4 U
v) w
d al
9 ":
d o
I: m
Water bakance of water bodies
cn COO r- e CO C O C O rl
m . .0
O N 0
0 4 0
. .
orl 0
0 l-i e w 0
N m N
m rle CO m COm rl
m 9 0
? O
H 0
9 o.? . N0.
w m
4 - CO
e 0
m m
m o 0
0 0 m
. . 0 rl
0 4 0
. 0.
rlr- * rl r- N C O w
x 0 4 PI
. 0. 0
9 w.r l. o. m.
rl 0 rl 0 0 4 0 o m
m rl rl rl m N
N o. s. m CI
0.7o. m.
5 rl 0 0 rl
0 0 0 0 orl
H U3 m m N N m e N
? ? (-? 0
2 rl 0 rl 0 0 m rlo o
W 0 U) m e m
H (-? ? e 8 o\
? W. O. o? 9
3 rl 0 rl 0 0 rlo mI I
W m PI mrl cn
m 9 $ 8 ?? ?9 ?
3 rl 0 N 0 0 d o o *
m m N N m w m rl
m r- r! ? ? N. W.
0 m
0 0 rlN m o
U) N CO N m com m
R 9
9 b. m. O?:
0 N
m rlN CO .;r N c n m
m 0
. .W
0 0
0 0
9 mw. oo. 0
? ?
0 m m r- N W rl
. 0. m
0 rl
o:? I
o m
CO rlo m N m a
9 9 ? m ??
rl 0 0 rl
0 4 0
& c

.a .$
I l d
ti0U .. .. a,
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ld 3 m u
E U rl U 2
l-1 w .rl d
0 & & 0
ri 1 a,
ld H 0 H M
VI ld
U 3 w
ld P) U
4 c VII
Methods for water balance computations

establishment of interrelations between the water balance of the

swamps and of the river basins within which the swamps are located
(Costin et al., 1964).
When computing the water balance of a swamp it is necessary to
take into account the type of swamp. Depending on the location,
the conditions of water replenishment, the nature of the plant cover
and its distribution over the swamp terrain, swamps may be divided
into two main types: upland swamps (high bogs) and lowland swamps.
Upland swamps are characterized by the following features: location
on watershed divide areas; convex surface; almost exclusively atm-
ospheric replenishment; oligotrophic vegetation. Lowland swamps
are characterized by: location in depressions, river valleys or
flood plains; concave or flat surface; mixed replenishment (preci-
pitation plus surface and sub-surface inflow from surrounding dry
land); eutrophic vegetation (Ivanov, 1957; Romanov, 1961).
Depending on the rate of water circulation, (see Section 8),
peat deposits on natural (unreclaimed) swamps may be divided into
two layers: an upper, active layer where the velocity of water flow
down the surface slope is high, and a lower inert layer comprising
the main peat deposit where infiltration and water exchange are very
The active layer is characterized by its high porosity and high-
ly variable water content. Its depth ranges from 80-100 mm in low-
land swamps, up to 600-700 mm in high bogs. Water flow (runoff) in
the active layer occurs partially on the swamp surface and partially
as filtration flow.
The inert.layer is characterized by very low permeability (co-
efficient of permeability in this layer is - 10-4 times that in
the active layer) and slightly varying water content.
Due to such differences in properties of the active and inert
peat layers, almost all the horizontal runoff from swamps occurs in
the active layer by surface or sub-surface flow. The volume of hor-
izontal runoff in the inert layer is less than 1% of runoff from the
active layer. Thus, horizontal outflow from a swamp is practically
equal to the amount of water flowing through the active layer.
The general water balance equation when applied to a swamp be-
comes the following (Ivanov, 1957) :

where P is precipitation on the swamp surface; Q1 is runoff from

the swamp over the channel network (brooks, etc.); Q2 is horizontal
flow over the active layer discharging into the adjacent dry land as
a dispersed flow; Q3 is inflow into the swamp from rivers and brooks;
94 is inflow of surface water into the swamp from slopes of adjacent
dry land, as well as ground-water inflow from aquifers intruding in-
to the peat deposit at the boundaries of the swamp; 95 is vertical
water exchange between the peat deposit and the underlying mineral
ground (95 2 0); E is evaporation from the swamp surface; AM
is the change in moisture storage in the active layer during the bal-
ance period.

Water balance of water bodies

Equation (100) may be used for computing the annual, seasonal,

monthly and 10-day water balances of swamps for particular years.
For mean balances, AM is zero.
Depending on the particular conditions of swamp replenishment,
equation (100) may be simplified if some of the components are el-
iminated or set to zero, and it may be expanded by the introduction
of additional terms.
The wat er-balance components are estimated by hydrometeorologi-
cal observations of the swamp. Precipitation P, evapotranspiration
E, runoff Q1 and inflow 93 are measured directly. Moisture storage
variation AM in the active layer is computed from data on swamp
water-level fluctuations and on the specific yield of the active
layer, determined experimentally (Ivanov, 1957; Romanov, 1961).
Horizontal flow over the active layer 92 is estimated by examination
of data on swamp water-levels and of filtration characteristics of
the active layer determined experimentally (Gidrometeoizdat, 1971b).
Inflow of surface water from surrounding slopes and ground-water in-
flow Q4, as well as vertical water exchange Q5, are usually computed
jointly as the residual term of the water balance equation.
Evaporation and swamp water storage variations differ in typical
parts of the swamp, in the so-called swamp micro-landscapes. A swamp
micro-landscape is a part of the swamp area with homogeneous micro-
relief and hydro-physical properties of the active layer, occupied
by one or several plant associations with similar botanical composi-
tion and structure. Therefore, observations on evaporation and
swamp water-level fluctuations and estimates of filtration characte-
ristics of the active layer are made individually for every swamp
micro-landscape. Evaporation and swamp water storage variations are
then averaged for the whole swamp area, taking into account the areas
covered by each type of micro-landscape.
Water storage variations in the active layer of the swanp are
thus computed by the formula:

where Vi and Ahi are experimentally determined specific yield coeffi-

cient and water-level variation for an area ai of micro-landscape,
and A is the total area of swamp. The mean evaporation for the whole
swamp is similarly determined by

where Ei is the evaporation during the balance period from an area ai

of micro-landscape.
Tables 20 and 21 present the results of the computation of the
water balance of a small high bog during a warm season (May-October)
and for a hydrologic year. The water-balance components were measur-
ed or estimated. Runoff was measured in four brooks flowing down
from the swamp. During high swamp water-levels, however, in spring
or autumn of wet years, the outflow from the marginal parts of the

Methods for water bakance compututions
m CO U V VI \o W
I I rl U rl U)
W rl N v) QI
0 Q)
p5 0
o\ W m rl m
I- W p5 I- rl
rl I m N
p5 v)
m W
0 rn
rl m p5 N W CO
0 W m v) rl
d d W
CO rl
N m W
m rl
I- *
rl m
p5 N W V V CO
W rl rl I W
W 0 0 0 0 W
rl rl
* W
P k cd
ca 0 01
Q1 P U
h 1 c, 0
rl M U
ii 3 rn8
1 0
r, 0 4
Water bahnce of water bodies
0 m U 0 0 rl U N CO W rl 0
0 m 0 m \o m 0 W m m W
N rl rl rl N N rl N rl
& m W N W m m U m N 0 m
m rl U N m m N N m rl
c 0 m P, m CO rl m U CO m CO
U W W W r- U m U m CO m
& U U U -;f U U -;f -f -;f * U
W m 0 P, N N rl CO m r- m
0 P, pz m CO 0 m m U P, N rl
N N rl N m rl rl rl m N
cd m m m * m m
P m
pz rl m P, 0
rl rl
P, CO m 0 rl N m U m U)
m m m W W W W W W W
m m m m m m m m m m
rl rl rl rl rl rl rl rl rl rl
I 1 I I I I I I I I










Methods for water balance computations

swamp occurred in the form of a dispersed flow, estimated as a

residual term of the water balance equation with the discrepancy of
balance included. Precipitation was measured by precipitation
gauges; evaporation was measured by evaporimeters GGT-B-1000 (Roma-
nov, 1961); moisture content variation in the active layer was com-
puted by data on swamp water-level fluctuations and on specific
yield. This computation was possible because moisture content in
the unsaturated zone of the swamp was usually close to field capaci-
ty (the equilibrium distribution of moisture in the capillary fringe)
due to a high porosity of the upper layers of the peat deposit and
to the water table location at a shallow depth.
During dry months, however, at low water-levels in the swamp,
large negative discrepancies were observed in monthly water balances
(Table ZO), because the drying of the upper layers of peat deposit
below field capacity was not taken into account.
5.4 Ground-water basins
The following special symbols are used for ground-water (see also
Fig. 12).

Type Symbol Meaning

subscripts C capillary
int interflow
ov overland flow
P from precipitation
c1 removed for economic
B returned from other
exchange with surface

~~ ~

Symbol Meaning Units

Id thickness of rock
ground-water level,

piezometric head
ratio of change in
ground-water stor-
age to change in
ground-water level
specific yield
saturation deficit

Water balance of water bodies

When studying the water balance of river basins it is most im-

portant to include the upper (unconfined) aquifer in the general wa-
ter-balance computation. Thus equation (1) is written for a basin
whose lower boundary is delineated by the upper surface of the aqui-
clude upon which the unconfined ground-water is formed. Further-
more, when carrying out detailed hydrological investigations, it is
essential to study and compute the water balance of ground-water
basins as individual water bodies. The computation of the water
balance of ground-water basins is particularly important for the sub-
stantiation of projects on ground-water as a source of water supply
(Blaney and Criddle, 1950; Kohler, Nordenson et al., 1955; Meyboom,
1966; Freeze, 1971).
The general form of the water balance equation for a ground-
water basin or one of its parts for any time interval is as follows:

QuJ+QULI+Qu e-Quc-Qu2 -Quo-Qu3
= O (103 )


where ,Q is the inflow (infiltration) of precipitation to the upper

surface of the ground water; Quu is the inflow of surface water a-
long the design stretch of the aquifer, i.e. along the stream chan-
nel; Qu is the ground-water outflow along the channel; QU1 is the
inflow og ground water through the given aquifer to the design basin;
Qui is the inflow of ground water from other aquifers; Que is the
artificial recharge volume (recharge wells, etc.); QVc is the outflow
of underground water into the zone of aeration for moisture recovery
lost by evapotranspiration; Quo is ground-water outflow from the de-
sign basin through the given aquifer; Qu2 is ground-water outflow
to other aquifers; Qu3 is ground-water outflow through springs;
,Q is ground water withdrawn from artesian aquifers; AG is the
change in ground-water storage; and 11 represents quantitatively
undetermined elements of the balance and errors of estimation of
other balance elements. The last two terms of the equation, i.e.
AG and 171 may be either positive or negative.
For long-term periods such as the water year, the term AG can
generally be considered as zero. For aquifers on hard dense aqui-
cludes, the balance element Qu2 representing the outflow of ground
water to adjacent basins may also be excluded. When the water-bal-
ance computation is made for a confined aquifer lying within the
boundaries of the underground watershed (within the whole closed
underground basin), equation (103) can be simplified considerably.
It is expedient to examine the terms which have been grouped in
equation (104) according to their need for data from direct observa-
tions. For instance, the first term of equation (104) represents
underground water exchange across the boundary of the design basin
and can be estimated by means of hydrodynamic computation of ground-
water flow according to the appropriate equation of ground-water

Metbodsfor wter balance comflukrtions

motion. Even in the simplest cases this requires observations of

water-levels and calculations of permeability from a network of ob-
servation wells. The third term in equation (104) can be estimated
on the basis of discharge measurements for springs and ground-water
flow calculations for Qu and Qup; or by using streamflow measure-
ments in the surface-watlr balance equation(Fig. 12).

Qllp - Qlly - Qu3 = QSI + Qovo - Qso - ASs - n2
where QS1 is the surface-water inflow from adjacent basin areas (art-
ificial water transfers included); Qso is the surface-water outflow
beyond the boundaries of the given area (irretrievable water intake
from rivers and lakes included); Qov0 is the overland flow input to
the stream channel; ASs is the change in surface-water storage; and
it is assumed that there is negligible precipitation and evaporation
on and from the surface of the river. In employing this equation
the overland flow component is either estimated independently or as-
sumed to be insignificant. The fourth term in equation (104) can be
estimated from data on artesian aquifers and recharge wells (Vsegin-
geo, 1968). Thus, through estimating three of the terms in equation
(104) it is possible to use this equation to calculate the net value
of ground-water recharge by infiltration, the term (Qup-Quc), in those
situations where the change in ground-water storage can be estimated
or assumed to.be insignificant.
However, the net value of ground-water recharge by infiltration,
(Qup-QUc) can also be estimated using the soil-moisture balance equ-
ation (Pig. 12)

Qup - Quc -- P - Qovo - E - bf - ~3

where P is precipitation; E is evaporation, and bf is the change in
soil-moisture storage. Thus if (QUp-Quc) can be calculated using
equation (106) it should be possible to use equation (104) to calcu-
late AG. Conversely, if equation (104) is used to calculate (Qup-
Quc) then equation (106) should afford an estimate of AM + 113.
It is obvious from the above that an independent estimate of the
net ground-water recharge by infiltration could be used to advantage
in the ground-water and soil-moisture balance equations (Lebedev,
1963; Vsegingeo , 1968). If detailed observations of ground-water
levels are carried out at hydrogeological stations and if data on the
aquifer parameters are available, then recharge by infiltration can
be computed by hydrodynamic calculations based on measurements of
water-level fluctuations. Independent estimates of (Qup-Quc) can
also be obtained from lysimeter investigations (Lebedev, 1963).
As a further example of the utility of the ground-water balance
equation, consider the special case of a natural or undeveloped
(Qu, = Qup = 0) unconfined aquifer (the first ground-water body below
the soil surface) overlying an essentially impervious aquiclude

Water bakance of water bodies

(Qui = Qu2 = 0). In this case the ground-water balance equation

(104) reduces to

If simultaneously with the determination of(QUv -

Quy -
Qu3) it is
possible to compute the change in ground-water storage AGy and if
(Qup Quc) has been estimated independently; then an estimate can
be made of the difference between the inflow QU1 and the outflow
Quo of ground water in the given area without the hydrodynamic com-
putation of these two flows. Recall that (Qup Quc) can be calcu-
lated from the soil-moisture balance equation (105), and that Qu,, -
Qur - Qu3) can be calculated from the surface-water balance equation
(105), without making recourse to any hydrodynamic calculations of
ground-water flow.
For AG = 0, a negative value of (QU1 Quo) indicates that ground-
water recharge is taking place and augmenting the underground outflow,
whereas a positive value is indicative of a net ground-water discharge
in the given area. Thus the long-term value of (QU1 Quo) is an in-
dex of the natural ground-water regime of that part of the unconfin-
ed aquifer for which the water-balance computation was made.
Underground water exchanges between river basins or their com-
ponent parts, which are related by geostructural or hydrogeological
characteristics to the predominant areas of recharge or discharge of
the aquifer, necessitate the inclusion of ground-water exchange com-
ponents in the general water balance equation (1). In this situa-
tion the water balance computations require the selection of design
area boundaries based on an understanding of the direction of ground-
water movement (Popov, 1967). A water balance model has been pro-
posed which is based on the selection of design areas according to
their location in areas of ground-water recharge, transmission, or
discharge (Lawson, 1971).
The above concepts are perhaps best illustrated by considering
the water balance equation for an artesian ground-water basin. A
separation of the artesian basin into predominant recharge and dis-
charge areas is required in order to determine the structure of the
water balance equation for smaller river basins within the artesian
basin. For river basins located in areaswhich receive artesian
water from other areas, the water balance equation is

where Qul is the inflow of artesian water to the basin and Qu2 is the
loss to deep aquifers which discharge ground water beyond the bound-
aries of the river basin under study. Other river basins would be
located in areas where the artesian aquifer is being recharged and
in this case the Qul term would represent an outflow and be preceded
by a negative sign.
The foregoing discussion has been primarily concerned with pre-
senting the structure of the ground-water balance equation, indicating

Methods for water balance compututions

how the various terms can be estimated, and demonstrating the uti-
lity of this equation in water resources investigations. Little
attention has been given to the accuracy with which the terms can be
estimated, that is, to ground-water instrumentation and observation
techniques (Gilliland, 1969), to the accuracy and precision of ground-
water measurements (Hvorslev, 1951), to the nature of ground-water
flow systems (Freeze and Witherspoon, 1966, 1967, 1968), to the de-
sign of ground-water observation networks (Geiger and Hitchon, 1964;
Lawson, 1970), and to the strategy to be employed in'conducting
ground-water basin studies (Lewis and Burgy, 1964; Meyboom, 1966,
1967; Lawson, 1970).
The literature cited above will provide further insight into the
employment and accuracy of the ground-water balance equation. In
general, there is little that can be said about the accuracy of
ground-water balance calculations, other than that the error term can
be quite large, that it is important to base the structure of the
equation on a sound understanding of the ground-water flow pattern,
and that any hydrometeorological information which is used to esti-
mate any of the terms should be as accurate as possible. It is dif-
ficult to obtain accurate estimates of the specific yield, and errors
can be reduced by selecting a time period over which the change in
storage approaches zero. Similarly, an inadequate knowledge of the
permeability distribution often limits the accuracy of hydrodynamic
computations of ground-water flow. Thus it is recommended that
these hydrodynamic calculations be checked by as many independent
methods as possible, e.g. by using equation (105), (106) and/or (107).
5.5 Mountain glacier basins, mountain glaciers and ice shields
The water balance equation for a mountain glacier basin for short
time intervals (months, seasons) may be written as follows:

where P is precipitation; E is evaporation; Q is runoff (discharge

at the outlet gauging section) from the whole mountain glacier basin;
ASgl is the change in the total storage of ice and snow on the sur-
face of all glaciers in the basin for the balance period; ASsn is the
change in the seasonal snow storage over the non-glaciated basin area;
AM is moisture content change in the unsaturated zone of the basin
area not covered by glaciers; Qup-QUc is water exchange between
ground water and the unsaturated zone; Quc is water recharge of the
unsaturated zone by ground water; Qup is percolation or infiltration
into ground water from the unsaturated zone; q is the balance discre-
This equation makes it possible to compute runoff (9) from the
whole mountain glacier basin if the surface and subsurface watershed
divides coincide. The terms of equation (109) are estimated indivi-
dually or areas covered and not covered by glaciers. The value
ASgl is estimated for areas occupied by glaciers and indicates the
change of total ice and snow storage on the surface of all glaciers
located in the given basin. All the rest of the terms of equation

Water balance ojwater bodies

(109) are estimated for the part of the basin not covered by glaciers.
Solid and liquid precipitation (P) is evaluated on the basis of
data from snow surveys and from storage precipitation gauges install-
ed in different parts of the basin. Snow surveys are also a means
of estimating the value of ASsn. The terms AS 1 may be estimated by
different methods, such as by observations of t8e glacier surface
melt by means of special staffs (ablation stakes) installed in the
ice, by the heat balance method, or, more approximately, on the basis
of air temperature data.
In order to estimate evaporation (E) it is possible to use the
methods of computation given in Section 3.4.3 or observational data
from evaporimeters. The estimation of AM is time-consuming since
it requires soil moisture measurements by gravimetric or other meth-
ods. Since there are no methods for the measurement of water ex-
change between ground water and the unsaturated zone, the water ex-
change (Qup-Quc) is usually included in the discrepancy term.
Equation (109) expresses the water balance for particular peri-
ods of short duration (particular months, seasons). For the annual
mean, it is possible to assume that LW = 0 and ASsn = 0. The value
ASgl, however, unlike AM can never be assumed to be zero at any
period of averaging, unless there is a sound reason for believing
that the glacier is in equilibrium. Even a very low rate of advance
or recession involves an appreciable annual change in AS 1.
For every particular glacier, ASgl expresses the bafance of the
solid phase of glacier substance and may be estimated on the basis of
the following equation for the ice and snow balance of a mountain
glacier :

"gl = 'sn + Qgl+sn + ASsnf - ASsm -E

where AS is the amount of melted snow and ice during the balance
period; 'Rs is the amount of snowmelt water frozen in the firn;

E is evaporapion from the glacier surface; Psn is the amount of

solid precipitation on the glacier surface; Q +sn is the amount of
ice and snow on the surface of the glacier dueg&o avalanches and
Water balances of glacier shields (ice caps) have not been ex-
tensively studied, and the solution of this problem may only be ob-
tained approximately. The water balance equation for ice and snow
of the glacier shield is presented as follows:

ASgl = Pin - Assn - Asice - E

where ASgl is the variation of the total amount of ice and snow of
the given ice shield for the balance period; ASsn is the amount of
melted ice and snow; Asice is the amount of ice lost by formation
of icebergs; E is evaporation from the surface of the glacier shield;
PAn is the amount of solid precipitation on the glacier shield.
5.6 Inland seas
The water balance equation of inland seas, such as the Baltic, for

Methodsfor water balance computations

any time interval may be expressed as

where Q is surface inflow into the sea (in general it is total river
runoff iischarging into the sea); QUI is underground inflow into the
sea from the shores and through the bottom of the sea; QstI is sea
water inflow from the ocean through straits connecting the sea with
the ocean; QstO is outflow from the sea through these straits; Ps
is precipitation on the sea surface; E, is evaporation from the sea
surface; ASs is variation of water storage in the sea, which in the
majority of cases equals zero.
Qs is determined by routine hydrometric methods, by means of dis-
charge measurements on rivers running into the sea, at gauging cross-
sections nearest to the river mouth; QstI and Qsto are estimated on
the basis of data of oceanographic investigations of currents in the
straits connecting the sea with the ocean; P, and AS, may be deter-
mined by methods applied for the computation of these elements for
large reservoirs (see Section 3.2.4 and; and E, is comput-
ed by the heat balance method. Direct measurement of underground
inflow into the sea presents almost insurmountable difficulties.
Underground inflow may be computed by hydrogeological methods or it
may beestimated as a residual term of the water balance equation.
The approximate mean water balance of the Baltic Sea (a typical
inland sea) is given in Table 22 (Sokolovski, 1968). The water
balance was computed by means of the simplified equation:

Qs + Ps - Es - Qsto = O
The discharge (Qsto) from the Baltic sea to the North Sea through
the Danish Straits was obtained by computing the difference:

The sea surface area was assumed to be 385000 IanL.

TABLE 22. Mean water balance of the Baltic Sea

Inflow components Outflow components

mm lan3 mm lan3

Surface inflow(Qs) 1140 440 Discharge through Danish 1190 459

Straits into the North
Sea (Qsto)
Precipitation (P,) 550 212 Evaporation (Es) 500 193

Total: 1690 652 T o t a l : 1690 652

Regional water balances (for large territories, countries, sea basins
and continents) are, as a rule, determined for long-term periods only.
6.1 Water balance of countries
Determination of the water balance of countries has two aims; first,
to obtain data necessary for the rational use of national water re-
sources and second, to obtain data necessary for the preparation of
generalized water balances of sea basins, continents and the globe
as a whole.
Country boundaries seldom coincide with watershed divides; they
cross river basins, large areas of which thus lie outside the bound-
aries of the country. A considerable volume of river runoff may
therefore flow into the territory of a given country from another
country through the channels of rivers crossing state borders.
Therefore, the mean water balance of individual countries (for
which the variation of water storage AS and the underground water ex-
change with neighbouring areas Qu1-QUo may be assumed to be equal to
zero) is computed by the following simplified equation:

P - E - Qs, + QsI = 0
where Q, is the total volume of water (river runoff) carried to the
country under study by rivers from foreign countries, Qso is the
total volume of water (river runoff) removed from the country beyond
its boundaries. -
The difference Qso QsI = Q is runoff that forms
within the country, conventionally called local runoff.
The computation of precipitation (P) and of evaporation (E) av-
eraged over the whole area of the country is made by methods describ-
ed in Sections 3.2 and 3.4; and Qso are determined from measure-
ments of river discharge at h:%!ometric stations nearest to the bor-
der. If the distance between the stations and the border is great,
the use of graphs of variations of discharge along the river is re-
Local runoff Q may be determined both by calculating the differ-
ence between the values of water outflow and inflow at the border
and by summarizing the runoff of individual rivers (or their stretch-
es) situated within the country. Usually the values of local run-
off obtained by the two methods are approximately the same. However,
if runoff which is formed on the given territory is as much as 50% or
if it exceeds the difference between the volumes of outflow and in-
flow, the error of the difference method may be considerable. In
these cases, the second method is preferable.
If there is no available information on the runoff of individual
rivers, the volume of local runoff may be determined by using the map
of mean annual runoff.
If the area of the country is relatively small, the water bal-
ance may be computed for the whole territory without division into
separate river basins. For larger countries with several large river
basins, the water balance of the whole country may be obtained by cal-

Methods for water balance compututions

culating the sum of water-balance components determined for indivi-

dual river basins.
Sometimes it is necessary to compute the water balance both for
the whole country and for its individual administrative units (dis-
tricts, states, provinces) or for economically important regions.
The methods of water-balance computation for such territories do
not differ from the above methods for countries.
Table 23 presents the results of water-balance computations by
means of equation (114) for the territories of Soviet Republics and
for the Soviet Union as a whole.
Table 24 presents the results of the computation of local runoff
using data on inflow and outflow for the territories of two neighbour-
ing administrative districts of the USSR.
6.2 Water balance of continents
The water balance of continents (Lvovitch, 1973) is determined by
adding up the water-balance components of individual countries loca-
ted on the given continent. In the same way the water-balance com-
ponents of the sea or ocean surrounding the continent may be deter-
When computing the water balance of continents, special attent-
ion should be paid to the co-ordination of balance components evalua-
ted in different countries. Discharges of large rivers crossing
country borders are first co-ordinated.

Region01 water balances
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Methods for water bakrnce computationr
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Regional w & r bolances
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The equation for the water balance of the earth, which is discussed
in detail in other chapters of this report, has served as a central
concept for hydrologists. A similar equation can be derived for
the continuity of water substance in the atmosphere, and during the
past few decades an improving network of aerological stations has
produced progressively more detailed and accurate measurements of
the various terms of this balance equation. The smallest areas and
shortest time periods for which averages can be computed are deter-
mined by the density of observation stations and the frequency of
sampling .
7.1 Main water balance equations
For a given balance period, in any selected layer of a large area
(for instance, large river basins, swamp areas, etc.) and in the at-
mosphere above it, the water balance equations are as follows (Boch-
kov and Sorochan, 1972):
for the active soil layer (see equation (1) ):
Q, - Qo i- P -
for the atmosphere above it:
E - AM - Q = 0

Q; - Qb - P i - E - AW - n' = 0 (116)
Equations (115) and (116) include respectively the total inflow (QI,
Qi) and outflow (90, QO) of water in the active soil layer and the
atmosphere, the change in water storage (AM) in the soil down to the
depth of the selected layer, and the change in water storage (AW) in
the atmosphere. For a long-term balance period, the terms AM and
AW may be taken as zero, but they must be included in the estimation
of the water balance for a shorter time interval.
7.2 Water balance equation for the atmosphere-soil system
The,waterbalance equation for the atmosphere-soil system is obtained
from the combined solution of equations (115) and (116):-
AQ + AQ' - AM - AW - N = 0 (117)
where AQ = Q, - Qo; AQ' = Qi - QA; N = q i- q'
Equation (117) allows atmosphere flux and storage data to be used to
estimate components of the water balance equation for the earth,
either as an independent check or as an indirect method of estimating
components that are difficult to measure.
7.3 Development of the water balance equation for the atmosphere
(For symbols see section
The water balance equation for the atmosphere may be developed for
studies of the role of water vapor in the general circulation of the
atmosphere (Ramusson, 1972; Peixoto, 1973); or of the role of cum-
ulus convection in the water balance of the atmosphere (Holland and

Methods /or water bakance cornflulotions

Rasmussen, 1973); or, as follows, so as to estimate the difference

between the mean value of evaporation and precipitation averaged
over an irregularly shaped area of the earth's surface (Drozdov and
Grigorieva, 1963; Palmen, 1967).
For an area A bounded by a curve C, equation (116) can be ex-
pressed in the form

E - P - AW- /ps <bc dc )dphu, -

rl' = 0
gA Pt
where ps and pt are the atmospheric pressure at the earth's surface
and the top of the atmosphere respectively, h is specific humidity,
and un is the component of wind velocity normal to C, directed out-
ward. The -
symbol indicates averaging with respect to time over
the balance period T.
In equation (118), the term AW is the difference between the
area-averaged water vapor content W at the beginning and end of the
balance period T,

Values of AW are typically a few millimetres, and the term can nor-
mally be ignored for annual or long-term balance computations, but
it may be significant for seasonal averages or averages for shorter
The integral terms of equations (118) and (119) may be obtained
from aerological data. Since more than 90 per cent of the water in
the atmosphere usually lies below a level of 500 mb, it is normally
sufficient to take calculations to pt = 500 or 400 mb. A mini-
mum vertical resolution of 50 mb is desirable in the lower levels,
up to about 700 mb (Palmen, 1967).
The integral term in equation (118) represents the divergence
of atmospheric vapour flux for the area A. The elements of this
term may be conveniently broken into a "mean" and "eddy" term, i.e.

h=G+h' )
=un+u' 1
n n

Since climatological summaries usually contain mean values of h and

U for various averaging periods (e.g. monthly and annual), it is re-
latively simple to compute the mean term in equation (121). Obser-
vational studies in the past 20 years (Peixoto, 1973) have shown that
correlations between tem=l variations in h and U may be signifi-
cant, and thus the term h'u; should not be neglected.
7.3.1 Measurement systems and data sources
The worldwide operational rawinsonde network is the major source of

Atmospheric water bakance

,itmospheric data for large-scale water-balance computations. The

standard transmission of mandatory rawinsonde levels, which includes
data at only 1000, 850, 700, 500 and 400 mb, generally does not pro-
vide adequate vertical resolution for vapor balance computations.
The configuration and observational schedule of the existing rawin-
sonde network is designed primarily for meteorological purposes,
rather than for budget computations over drainage basins, and it is
often difficult to match a natural drainage system with the network;
for example, rawinsonde stations are rarely located on drainage div-
ides. Interpolation between stations may require a systematic ana-
lysis of the wind and humidity field over a large region (Cressman,
1959; Gandin, 1963). Care should also be taken to avoid errors
due to instrumental differences (Flohn, Henning and Korff , 1965).
Special observational projects, suitable for atmospheric water-
balance computations, include the Barbados Oceanographic and Meteo-
rological Experiment (BOMEX) (Holland and Rasmussen, 1973), the In-
ternational Field Year for the Great Lakes (IFYGL) (Aubert, 1972;
Bruce, 1972) and the GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE). Re-
mote sensing devices, particularly the geosynchronous earth satellite,
offer additional sources of data.
7.3.2 Space scale considerations
For water-balance analysis of individual cyclones or mesoscale sys-
tems, the network of aerological observations must be dense enough
to resolve the major features of the disturbance. For long-term
average water-balance computations, the network must resolve the var-
iations in E-P arising from variations in the characteristics of the
earth's surface. For example, over the m6untainous regions of North
America, a substantial fraction of the spatial variance in the annual
average value of E-P is associated with features whose dimensions
range between 200 and 600 km (Rasmussen, 1971). Since the typical
spacing of aerological stations in these regions is generally 250 to
350 km, it is not possible to resolve these small-scale variations
with the existing network of stations.
Data from the existing network have however been used success-
fully for large-scale water-balance computations in suitable areas,
such as the Baltic Sea (3 x lo5 km2) (Palmen and Soderman, 1966),
the Upper Colorado River Basin (2.6 x lo5 la2)(Rasmussen, 1967),
and areas in the Great Plains of North America (down to 5 x lo5 lan2)
(Rasmussen, 1971). The special projects noted above include water-
balance computations for relatively small areas.
7.3.3 Time scale considerations
Operational rawinsonde observations are typically taken twice daily,
which is probably adequate for water computations of individual cyc-
lones, but is normally not adequate for individual mesoscale systems.
However , this sampling rate is quite adequate for long-term average
computat.ions, provided there are no systematic diurnal variations in
the flux divergence. Significant large-scale diurnal variations
have been demonstrated by Hastenrath (1967), Nitta and Esbensen (1973)
and Rasmussen (1966, 1967, 1968) , and small-scale diurnal circulations,

Methodsfor woter balonce compututions

such as land-sea breezes and mountain-valley winds, are well known.

Therefore, depending on the lcoation and the time of year, it may be
necessary to sample several times dally in order to properly resolve
the diurnal variation.
7.4 Estimation of the terms of the equation for the atmosphere-
soil system
When the values of AQ and AQ' are given by the relevant equations
and AW is known, the term AM can be estimated from equation (117).
In a similar way, climatic runoff E-P or E can be estimated from
the above equations if necessary.
Due to the inaccuracy of estimation of water balance terms,
such estimates may include errors which depend on the 1ow.accuracy
of measurements, as well as the discrepancy of estimation or the
terms not taken into account.

To estimate the rate of water circulation in the active layer of the
hydrosphere, use can be made of the criterion indicating the rate of
water circulation (Kalinin, 1968), also called the residence time
(UNESCO, 1971). There is not one specific residence time for a
given component, and the spectrum of residence times depends on the
mechanism of flow for that component. Regardless of this mechanism,
the average (conventional) residence time Tr can be expressed as the
ratio of ayerage storage volume ? to the average throughput (input
or output) Q, i.e.

Tr = v/G
The conventional residence time for the atmosphere can be esti-
mated with the help of the coefficients of water exchange and of wat-
er consumption, (Drozdov and Grigorieva, 1963); its average value is
8-10 days. This is low in comparison with conventional residence
times for some other components of the hydrological cycle (UNESCO,
1971), but is comparable with biological water (conventional resi-
dence time about 1 week) and water in river channels (about 2 weeks).
These components provide the dynamics of the water cycle, though they
together comprise only one millionth part of the earth's total water
supply. The stabilizing components of the hydrological cycle are
the oceans (conventional residence time about 4000 years), frozen
water (tens to thousands of years), deep ground water (up to tens of
thousands of years) and swamps (of the order of years). Intermediate
are soil water (2-4 weeks) and water in the unsaturated zone and sha-
llow ground water (up to 1 year), which provide a link between the
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