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Generalized Mass Balance Equations:

Amount In Amount Out = Change in Storage

I Q = S

In this case Q= total output. Most of the time in this class, the symbol Q is used to signify stream flow.

To be a reliable mass balance, these quantities need to refer to a common time period, which could be explicitly
incorporated into the mass balance:

I Q = S
t t t

where t refers to the common time over which the mass balance is conducted.

By defining average rates of mass flow mI = I/t and mQ = Q/t, the above equation can be rewritten as:

mI mQ = S
t

Sometimes we are interested in instantaneous changes in these quantities, in which case the equation may be
written in differential form:

i q = dS
dt

where i, q, and S are not average values over a period of time but instantaneous values at an instant in time.
Long-term Mass Balance for a Watershed:

Input Output = change in storage

Input = Precipitation + Groundwater input


= P + Gin

Output = Evapotranspiration + Stream Flow + Groundwater Output


= ET + Q + Gout

P + Gin (ET + Q + Gout) = S

Assume that 1) over the long-term, change in storage is negligible compared to other terms (S0); and
2) net groundwater inputs and outputs are negligible compared to other terms (Gin Gout 0), which simplifies the
equation to:

P (ET + Q) = 0

Solving for ET gives:

P Q = ET

Example: For the Embarras River at Camargo 1978 to 1998,

P = 40 in/yr, Q = 188 ft3/sec, watershed area = 186 mi2


Estimate average annual evapotranspiration for this watershed and this period.
For the Embarras River at Camargo 1978 to 1998, P = 40 in/yr, Q = 188 ft3/sec, and watershed area = 186 mi2
Estimate the average annual evapotranspiration for this watershed and this period, assuming net groundwater flows
and changes in storage are negligible.

Assume density of water is constant. Because water volume is mass divided by density, if density is constant, a
volume balance is equivalent to a mass balance.

Convert stream discharge to a depth over the watershed area: depth = volume/area

Q = 188 ft3/sec * 1 mi2 * 1 ac * 12 in * 3600 sec * 24 hr * 365 day = 13.7 in/yr


2 2
186 mi 640 ac 43560 ft 1 ft 1 hr 1 day 1 yr

ET = P Q = 40 in/yr 13.7 in/yr = 26.3 in/yr

In metric units
P = 1000 mm/yr, Q = 5.32 m3/sec, watershed area = 482 km2
Estimate long-term average annual evapotranspiration for this watershed and this period.

Q = 5.32 m3/sec * 1 km2 * 1000 mm * 3600 sec * 24 hr * 365 day = 348 mm/yr
482 km2 106 m2 1m 1hr 1 day 1 yr

ET = P Q = 1000 mm/yr 348 mm/yr = 652 mm/yr


Estimating uncertainty in ET due to measurement error in P and Q:

One way to express the uncertainty in a value is to report a confidence interval.

Pr{(m u*m < true value > (m+ u*m)} = p

Where Pr signifies the probability of the statement within the {}, m = mass flux (either precipitation or stream flow
or ET), u = the relative uncertainty, u*m = the absolute uncertainty, and p is the numerical value of the probability
in the left side of the expression. If p = 95%, then the statement defines the 95% confidence interval for m and .

u * m = 1.96 * s

where s = standard deviation:


1/2
i=n

s = { (xi X)2}/(n-1)
i=1

xi = individual observations
X = mean of individual observations
n = number of observations
When we calculate ET by a mass balance rather than direct measurement, the uncertainty in the resulting ET is a
function of the uncertainty in P and Q. If variance (2) due to measurement error in P and Q are unrelated, then:

2ET = 2P + 2Q

2 = true variance due to measurement error


s2 = estimated variance

For a normal distribution, a 95% of the observations are within + 1.96 s of the sample mean, and therefore, the
mean value + 1.96 s represents an estimate of a 95% confidence interval for the true mean value.
In other words, 95% of the time, the true mean will be within the interval of the sample mean + 1.96 s.

Studies of the accuracy of P suggest that 95% of the reported observations are within 10% of the true value (i.e.,
up= 0.1), and therefore, 0.1P = 1.96 sP. Thus, sP 0.1 P/2. However, these errors are generally not normally
distributed but tend to be biased toward under measurement for reasons that we will discuss later.

Studies of the accuracy of Q suggest that 95% of the reported observations are within 5% of the true value (i.e.,
uQ= 0.1, and therefore, 0.05 Q = 1.96 sQ. Thus, sQ 0.05 Q/2.

After sQ and sP are estimated, then sET and uET can be estimated from the following:

s2ET = s2P + s2Q

uET = 1.96 * sET


mET
Flow Duration Curves

EPQ(qp) = 1-FQ(qp) = Pr {Q>qp}

EPQ(qp) = Exceedence probability of the pth quantile of flow


FQ(qp) = Cumulative distribution function, or quantile function

The exceedence probability of any flow can be estimated using the Weibull plotting position formula:

EPQ(q) = m/(1+n)

Where m = the rank of the flow when all flows are sorted from greatest to least value,
n = the total number of observations

The flow at the pth quantile is the flow that is larger than p x 100% of all the recorded flow values over a period of
several years.

For example, the 0.25 quantile flow (also called the lower quartile flow) is larger than 25% of all daily values. The
exceedence probability for the same value of discharge, is one minus the quantile function, and in this case is 1
0.25 = 0.75. In other words, 75% of the daily flows exceed this flow.

The 0.75 quantile (also called the upper quartile) is larger than 75% of all values, and the exceedence probability is
1-0.75 =0.25. In other words, 25% of the daily flows exceed this value.

The difference between the flow at the upper quartile and at the lower quartile (the interquartile range) is
sometimes used as an indication of the variability of flow.
daily Embarras River at Camargo 1960-2000
discharge
10000
(cfs)
1000
Q.25 100
Q.75 10
1
0.1
0.01
0 0.25 0.5 0.75 1
Exceedence Probability
Reservoir Residence Time (TR)

The average length of time a parcel of water spends in the reservoir. If storage is constant:

TR = S = S
mQ mI

Residence time is also called turn-over time, because it is a measure of the time it takes to completely replace the
substance in the reservoir.

Lake Springfield Residence Time:


S = 52,200 ac-ft * 43,560 ft2 = 2.27 * 109 ft3
ac
3
mQ = 200 ft
sec

TR = S = 2.27 x 109 ft3 = 1.14 * 107 sec * 1 hr * 1 day = 132 days


3
mQ 200 ft 3600 sec 24 hr
sec

Lake Michigan Residence Time:

S = 4,920 km3 mQ = 1576 m3


sec

TR = S = 4920 km3 * 109 m3 * 1 hr * 1 day * 1 year = 99 years


3 3
mQ 1576 m km 3600 sec 24 hr 365 days
sec
Autocorrelation and Hydrologic Persistence
Autocorrelation is a measure of how strongly correlated observations are to the previous observations of a given
entity.

Some hydrologic phenomena demonstrate a degree of persistence, or autocorrelation, rather than completely
random behavior. For instance, high stream flow tends to persist for several days after large rain events. Low
stream flows tend to persist during and after the main growing season. There is also some degree of persistence in
precipitation in some areas, in which wet years have a tendency to follow wet years, and dry years tend to follow
dry years. The degree of persistence can be quantified by the autocorrelation coefficient, which is a measure of
how correlated observations are to the previous observations.

In MS Excel, you can calculate the atuocorrelation coefficient by using the following function:
=correl(Xi:Xn-1, Xi+1:Xn)

Where, X is the column that contains the time series of observations, i= the row number for the first observation
and n= the row number for the last observation.

For instance, if i =3 and n=1000, and then use =correl(X3:X999, X4:X1000)