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Doc No. NH/DD/DOC/43/01-00

(A Government of India Enterprise)
Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Hydrological information forms a basic and important parameter for optimum planning
as well as execution of any water resources project and its subsequent operations. The
evaluation of the possibilities of utilization and control of a country’s water resources
depend on accurate information on the extent, dependability and quality of hydro-
meteorological data. With the ever increasing population, there is an increasing concern
for the water and energy security. This continues to drive hydropower development
which eventually necessitates proper and systematic observation, monitoring and
compilation of hydro-meteorological data.

A proper and organized scheme for collection of the required hydro-meteorological

data/information such as precipitation, run off, water quality, sedimentation and other
climate parameters is essential to be maintained at all NHPC projects/power stations. In
this endeavor Design & Engineering Division, NHPC has come up with the “Hydro-
meteorological observation Manual” with an intention to ensure a standard and
systematic approach in data observation. Uniformity and standardization of practices in
hydro meteorological data observation and collection across all NHPC locations will go
a long way in having a quality data of hydrological information at any location.

This manual covers diversified instruments and methods of observation of hydrological

variables based upon relevant BIS codes, international standards and manuals and
basis of site selection of these observations.

The efforts put in by the hydrology unit of Design & Engineering division are
commendable. It is expected that our officers involved in the Hydrometry shall follow the
manual scrupulously, so that the intended purpose of uniformity of procedures in the
hydro-meteorological observation across the organization is achieved.

Balraj Joshi
Chairman & Managing Director
Date: April, 2018
Place: Faridabad

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Planning and appraisal of hydro electric projects is a highly specialised task that
requires detailed analysis of various integrated studies and hydro-meteorological data is
the preliminary requirement for planning of any water resources project. Hydro-
meteorological data observation is a specialised and scientific work and this data is
required for the policy makers, designers and researchers for numerous activities.

To achieve this capability, a basic network of observation stations in a region is a pre-

requisite. The principal characteristic of the data obtained from such a network is that
they are representative of the hydrology of the area, a and
nd they must be collected to
standards that are able to meet the reasonable requirements of planning, design and
operation of the hydropower projects/power stations. NHPC is a leading organization in
the field of generating hydroelectric power and is prese
ntly operating and maintaining
20 power stations, 3 under construction projects and 8 projects under development in
various basins and states of India.

Going forward, it is considered appropriate that issues like self-learning short term
inflow forecasting and digitization are incorporated in this manual in future.

In this endeavor Design & Engineering Division, NHPC has framed the “Hydro-
meteorological observation Manual” with an objective to establish a proper and
organized hydro meteorological network for collection of data/information of different
types at these projects/power stations and shall prove to be a very useful and practical
guide to the site engineers.

S.R. Roy
Executive Director
(PID, Geo-tech & IT)
Date: April, 2018
Place: Faridabad

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

The uneven temporal and spatial distribution of our country’s water resources
necessitates precise hydro-meteorological observations in rivers for the optimum
planning of water resources projects and their subsequent operations. With the growing
recognition of these issues including global climatic change, there is an increasing
emphasis upon reliable hydro-meteorological data as the foundation for sustainable
development and management of water resources projects.

I am happy that Design & Engineering Division, NHPC has come up with the “Hydro-
meteorological observation Manual”. This is great contribution of Sh. Keshav Deshmukh
GM, Sh. Rajeev Baboota CE and other officers of “Hydrology Cell”. This manual
provides complete descriptions of the theoretical bases and the range of applications of
hydrological methods and techniques being practiced all around the world. References
to documentation are provided wherever applicable. The aim is to provide to all those
engaged in the field of hydrolo
gy, information on current practices, procedures and
instrumentation, which would help them in successfully carrying out their work.

I hope that this Manual will be of immense use to hydro engineers involved in hydro-
meteorological data observation, monit
oring and collection at NHPC project sites.
Comments and Suggestions are invited for its further improvement. Difficulties faced in
implementation of these guidelines/standards may be brought to the notice of Design &
Engineering Division for review, as required.

It is mentioned that preparation of “Hydro-meteorological observation Manual” became

possible due to continuous guidance and inspiration from our worthy Chairman &
Managing Director, Sh. Balraj Joshi.

Narendra Kumar
Executive Director
(Design & Engineering)
Date: April, 2018
Place: Faridabad

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual



1. INTRODUCTION…………. ................................................................. 1

1.1 GENERAL................................................................................................ 1
1.3 OVERVIEW OF THE MANUAL................................................................ 2
1.4 DISCUSSION ON VARIOUS CHAPTERS............................................... 2
2. MEASUREMENT OF CLIMATIC VARIABLES .................................. 5

2.1 TEMPERATURE ...................................................................................... 5

2.2 RELATIVE HUMIDITY ........................................................................... 11
2.3 SOLAR RADIATION .............................................................................. 15
2.4 SUNSHINE DURATION......................................................................... 17
2.5 SURFACE WIND ................................................................................... 20
2.6 EVAPORATION ..................................................................................... 23
2.7 AUTOMATIC WEATHER STATION ...................................................... 29
2.8 COLLECTION & DISSEMINATION ....................................................... 34
REFERENCES ............................................................................................ 35
3. MEASUREMENT OF PRECIPITATION ........................................... 40

3.1 DEFINITION .......................................................................................... 40

3.2 MEASURING INSTRUMENTS (RAINGAUGES) ................................... 41
3.3 MEASURING INSTRUMENTS (SNOWGAUGES)................................. 46
3.6 INSTALLATION AND PROTECTION .................................................... 52
3.7 MAINTENANCE OF SITE ...................................................................... 55
3.8 FREQUENCY OF MEASUREMENT...................................................... 58

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

3.10 ACCURACY OF DATA ........................................................................ 59

3.11 NETWORK DENSITY .......................................................................... 60
3.12 STORAGE OF DATA ........................................................................... 61
3.15 COLLECTION & DISSEMINATION ..................................................... 70
REFERENCES ............................................................................................ 70
4. STREAM GAUGING………… .......................................................... 73

4.1 DEFINITION .......................................................................................... 73

4.2 STAGE-MEASURING DEVICES ........................................................... 74
1):2002) ............................................................................................... 81
4.4 PROCEDURES FOR MEASUREMENT OF STAGE ............................. 87
4.6 FREQUENCY OF MEASUREMENT.................................................... 104
STATION ........................................................................................... 107
CONTROLS (NOTCHES, WEIRS AND FLUMES) ............................ 115
15847:2009)....................................................................................... 121
4.11 DIRECT DISCHARGE-GAUGING STATIONS .................................. 124
PARTICULAR CONDITIONS............................................................. 132
4.13 PRESENTATION OF STREAMFLOW DATA .................................... 133
4.14 ADEQUECY OF G&D NETWOK ....................................................... 135
4.15 MAINTENANCE OF GAUGE & DISCHARGE STATION ................... 135
4.16 COLLECTION & DISSEMINATION ................................................... 137
REFERENCES .......................................................................................... 138

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

5. SEDIMENT OBSERVATION .......................................................... 143

5.1 DEFINITIONS ...................................................................................... 143

5.2 SUSPENDED SEDIMENT SAMPLING................................................ 144
5.4 FREQUENCY AND TIMING OF SAMPLING ....................................... 155
5.5 LABORATORY PROCEDURES .......................................................... 155
5.6 PARTICLE SIZE ANALYSIS .............................................................. 162
5.7 MEASUREMENT OF BED LOAD ........................................................ 165
LABORATORY .................................................................................. 165
STATIONS ......................................................................................... 168
5.10 COLLECTION & DISSEMINATION ................................................... 169
REFERENCES .......................................................................................... 169
6. FLOOD FORECASTING… ............................................................ 172

6.1 GENERAL............................................................................................ 172

6.2 BENIFITS............................................................................................. 172
6.3 INPUT REQUIREMENT ....................................................................... 173
6.4 EXISTING SYSTEM ............................................................................ 173
6.5 LIMITATIONS ...................................................................................... 177

Note: These guidelines are issued for internal circulation and use within NHPC Ltd.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 2.1 Liquid Glass Thermometer......................................................................... 8
FIGURE 2.2 A Maximum –Minimum Thermometer ........................................................ 9
FIGURE 2.3 An arrangement for Temperature Measurement using Stevenson Screen
...................................................................................................................................... 10
FIGURE 2.4 Analog & Digital Hygrometer.................................................................... 13
FIGURE 2.5 Solar Radiation Measuring Instrument ...................................................... 17
FIGURE 2.6 Sunshine Duration Measuring Instrument ................................................. 19
FIGURE 2.7 Cup and Propellor Anemometer ............................................................... 22
FIGURE 2.8 Wind Vane ................................................................................................ 23
FIGURE 2.9 Class A Pan Evaporimeter ........................................................................ 26
FIGURE 2.10 Diagram of a Typical Automatic Weather Station ................................... 30
FIGURE 2.11 Image of a Typical Automatic Weather Station ....................................... 31
FIGURE 2.12 Data-logger for Automatic Weather Station ............................................ 32
FIGURE 2.13 Enclosures with Solar Panel for Data-Logger of Weather Station........... 33
FIGURE 3.1 Non-recording Type (Symon’s Rain Gauge) ............................................. 42
FIGURE 3.2 Standard Raingauge ................................................................................. 43
FIGURE 3.3 Self Recording Rain Gauge (Rangit Power Station) ................................. 44
FIGURE 3.4 Tipping Bucket Raingauge ........................................................................ 45
FIGURE 3.5 Weighing Raingauge ................................................................................ 45
FIGURE 3.6 Float Type Raingauge............................................................................... 46
FIGURE 3.7 Snow Gauge ............................................................................................. 47
FIGURE 3.8 Measurement from a Self Recording Rain Gauge .................................... 52
FIGURE 3.9 Installation of Non Recording type Rain Gauge ........................................ 53
FIGURE 3.10 Installation of Recording-type Rain Gauge ............................................. 55
FIGURE 3.11 Rainfall Measurement by RADAR ........................................................... 62
FIGURE 3.12 TRMM Satellite Instrumentation .............................................................. 64
FIGURE 3.13 Annual Rainfall by TRMM ....................................................................... 64
FIGURE 3.14 Example of Rainfall Distribution Graph obtained from IMD Website ....... 67
FIGURE 3.15 Example of Last 5 Year District Rainfall from IMD Website .................... 68

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.16 Example of Cumulative Annual Rainfall Map obtained from IMD Website
...................................................................................................................................... 69
FIGURE 4.1 Staff Gauge............................................................................................... 75
FIGURE 4.2 Water Stage Recorder in a Gauge Well ................................................... 76
FIGURE 4.3 Pneumatic Pressure Sensor ..................................................................... 77
FIGURE 4.4 Diaphragm Pressure Sensor..................................................................... 78
FIGURE 4.5 Downward Looking Ultrasonic Device....................................................... 79
FIGURE 4.6 Radar Type Water Level Recorder ........................................................... 80
FIGURE 4.7 Cross section Survey Using Echo sounder ............................................... 91
FIGURE 4.8 Cup Type Current Meter .......................................................................... 92
FIGURE 4.9 Horizontal Axis or Propeller-type Current Meters...................................... 92
FIGURE 4.10 Area Velocity Methods for Discharge Computation ................................ 97
FIGURE 4.11 Velocity Contour Method......................................................................... 98
FIGURE 4.12 Surface Floats ......................................................................................... 99
FIGURE 4.13 Dilution Method ..................................................................................... 103
FIGURE 4.14 Rating Curve ......................................................................................... 111
FIGURE 4.15 Loop Rating Curve ................................................................................ 114
FIGURE 4.16 Different Type of Thin Plate Weirs ........................................................ 117
FIGURE 4.17 Different Type of Broad Crest Weirs ..................................................... 118
FIGURE 4.18 Different Type of Discharge Measuring structures .............................. 119
FIGURE 4.19 Schematic Diagram of the Transit Time Differential Method ................. 124
FIGURE 4.20 Schematic Diagram of the Doppler Effect Method ................................ 125
FIGURE 4.21 Sketch Illustrating Typical ADCP Sensors ........................................... 126
FIGURE 4.22 Boat Mounted ADCP............................................................................. 127
FIGURE 4.23 A Typical Transmitter, non-contact Radar Velocity Sensor and Ultrasonic
Water Level Sensor .............................................................................. 127
FIGURE 4.24 Automatic Water Level Recorder and velocity profiler at Subansiri Lower
Project .................................................................................................. 128
FIGURE 4.25 Non Contact Q Eye Radar System ...................................................... 128
FIGURE 4.26 Installation of Q Eye Radar System ..................................................... 129
FIGURE 4.27 Flow Meter Fitted With Penstock .......................................................... 131

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 4.28 Flow Meter Chamera-I Power Station ................................................... 132

FIGURE 4.29 Flood Hydrograph ................................................................................. 134
FIGURE 5.1 Bottle Type Sampler ............................................................................... 146
FIGURE 5.2 Sediment Discharge Computation .......................................................... 152
FIGURE 5.3 LISST Instrument ................................................................................... 154
FIGURE 5.4 Filtration .................................................................................................. 158
FIGURE 5.5 Hydrometer ............................................................................................. 160
FIGURE 5.6 Drying Oven & A Set of Sieves ......................................................... 163
FIGURE 6.1 Category of Floods ................................................................................. 176

Note: These guidelines are issued for internal circulation and use within NHPC Ltd.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual


TABLE 2.1 Thermometer Characteristic Requirements ................................................. 5

TABLE 2.2 Performance Requirements for Relative Humidity..................................... 12
TABLE 2.3 Instrument Classification ............................................................................ 16
TABLE 3.1 Accuracy in Measurement ......................................................................... 60
TABLE 3.2 Minimum Density of Precipitation Station (WMO,1994) ............................ 60
TABLE 4.1 Float velocity adjustment factor F as a function of R, the ratio of the
immersed depth of float to depth of water ............................................... 101
TABLE 4.2 Recommended observation frequency for water level measurement ....... 105
TABLE 4.3 Recommended accuracy (uncertainty levels) expressed at the 95 percent
confidence interval .................................................................................. 135
TABLE 4.4 Recommended Minimum density of station (Area in Sqkm per station) ... 135
TABLE 5.1 Estimated Distance for Complete Mixing in Streams and Rivers (after
Bartram & Balance, Water Quality Monitoring, E. & F.N. Spon, London,
1996) ....................................................................................................... 150
TABLE 5.2 Selection of Verticals ............................................................................... 153
TABLE 5.3 Parameters of Different LISST Instruments .............................................. 154
TABLE 5.4 Time after which Hydrometer Readings are to be taken in Relation to
Temperature of the Sample .................................................................... 161
TABLE 5.5 Time Taken for Particles of Diameter Greater than 0.062 mm to Fall
Through 10 cm Column of Water at Different Temperatures .................. 164
TABLE 5.6 List of Equipment for Silt Lab.................................................................... 165

Note: These guidelines are issued for internal circulation and use within NHPC Ltd.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual




Hydrology is the science that deals with the occurrence, circulation and distribution of
the waters of Earth and earth’s atmosphere and the scientific study especially with
relation to effects of precipitation on the occurrence and character of water in streams,
lakes and rivers. As such Engineering hydrology is the basis for solving practical
problems of floods and droughts, erosion and sediment transport, and water pollution.
Indeed, increasing concerns for the threats to water resources posed by climate change
and sea-level rise, have highlighted the central role of hydrology in many environmental

The National water resources are limited & unevenly distributed resulting in seasonal
abundance, and even devastating floods in some areas, while large tracts in other
regions are persistently drought affected. The above situations have been compounded
with the apprehended climate change which calls for data collection on large scale to
carryout climate change studies to help find possible sustainable solutions. This erratic
occurrence necessitates precise hydrological observations in rivers for the optimum
planning of water resources projects and their subsequent operations. The hydro-
meteorological data is required for the policy makers, designers and researchers for
long-term planning, design and management of water resources and water use
systems, and for related research activities. In recent years, the increasing demand for
the security of supply of both water and energy continues to drive hydropower
development which further necessitates proper and systematic observation, monitoring
and compilation of hydro-meteorological data.


NHPC is a leading organization in the field of generating hydroelectric power and is

presently operating and maintaining 20 power stations, 3 under construction projects
and 8 projects under development in various basins and states of India. A proper and
organized hydro meteorological scheme for collection of data/information of specific
kinds such as precipitation, run off, water quality, sedimentation and other climate
parameters is essential to be maintained at all these power stations/projects. Having
enough relevant and accurate hydrologic information reduces the chances of under-

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

design or overdesign and thus minimizes the economic losses, which leads to the
overall increase in the benefit/ cost ratio.

In view of the above, it has been felt prudent to prepare a manual on hydro-
meteorological observations and compilation of data which would help to adopt a
standard systematic approach in establishing a standardized hydro-meteorological
network across all NHPC power stations, under construction projects and projects under
survey and investigation. The objective is that the basic network should provide a level
of hydrological information at any location within its region of applicability that would
preclude any mistakes in water-resources decision making.


This manual covers diversified methods & instruments for observation of hydrological
variables based upon relevant BIS codes, international standards & manuals and basis
of site selection of these observations. In practice, many classical methods of
measurement described herein continue in use in spite of the advent of new
technologies. Selection of new technologies must be made from a wide variety of
available instruments and methods of observation that are continually expanding. It is
felt that there is a need to adopt new and proven technologies being used in many parts
of the world so this manual provides some insight into several of these new
technologies enabling the personal involved in data observation are aware of their
possibilities. Use of technology in various types of data also reduces the probability of
errors due to human intervention.


The manual describes the purpose, method of observation, compilation and tabulation
of various hydro-meteorological parameters involved in the planning of water resources
project. Following activities are required in this regard:

(a) Measurement of hydro-meteorological logical parameters in rivers at selected place,

time and frequency involving quantity and quality with desired accuracy.
(b) Compilation and tabulation of hydrological data.
(c) Data scrutiny and processing.

Chapter-2 i.e. “Measurement of Climatic Variables” elaborates reliable methods for

obtaining climatic data. It discusses the facets of evaporation, temperature, sunshine,
humidity, surface wind, solar radiation measurement that are most relevant to
hydrological practice.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Chapter-3 “Measurement of Precipitation” focuses on major variable of the

hydrological cycle involving the circulation of water in various forms through earth
surface, below the ground and atmosphere. A good understanding of precipitation
parameters is very important for proper assessment of available water resources over a
short or longer period of time and for devising measures to overcome the extreme
effects of hydrological phenomenon such as floods and droughts.

Chapter-4 “Stream Gauging” gives insight into the several different methods for
measurement of discharge and water level and the choice of methods depends on the
conditions encountered at a particular site. The network of stream flow observations is
purpose-based on requirements such as for water resources assessment and its
distribution, flood forecasting & flood management, pollution control and environmental
management, river behavior and other hydrological studies.

Chapter-5 “Sediment Observation” deals with operational methods of sediment

measurement, including measurements of suspended sediment, bed load and total
sediment load. Also, laboratory procedures, data processing and assessment of
accuracy and reliability in sediment measurement are presented. Methods of sediment
management and observation in NHPC power stations are also given. Accurate
sediment data are the basis of every aspect of sediment management and numerical
(computer) modelling of sedimentation.

Chapter-6 “Flood Forecasting” describes about the “National Flood Forecasting and
Warning Network” of Central Water Commission and Quantitative Precipitation Forecast
by Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). These information are available at relevant
websites mentioned in this chapter, which may be used by all the power stations of
NHPC for real time flood forecasting.

It is hoped that these guidelines, which covers the entire activities involved in hydro-
meteorological observations ranging from selection of site/station on the river , design of
network for a basin or river system, type of methodology to be used at the station,
selection of suitable equipment and technology for observation of different parameters,
tabulation-calculation-compilation of observations made, scrutiny-validation-publication
of data, will be of immense use for the hydro engineers involved in hydro-meteorological
observations at the project sites.

Going forward, it is felt that the various types of hydro-meteorological data as observed
in the field can be put to a better operational use if it can be readily assessed by the
potential data user. For any systematic and proper hydrological analysis both historical
and real time data of a river basin is required and this objective can be achieved by
digitization of the observed data. Digitized data allows the hydrologist or water-resource

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

planner to concentrate on data analysis by minimizing the previously time consuming

tasks of locating, collating, and manually processing data. However, the project sites of
NHPC are located in remote areas where reliable and continuous network connectivity
is a problem at present. But it is felt that with advancement in technology and growth of
data communication networks in coming years, attempts should be made for digitization
of all data being observed across various locations of NHPC.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual




2.1.1 General

For meteorological purposes temperatures is air temperature (at various heights). It is

defined as the temperature indicated by a thermometer exposed to the air in a place
sheltered from direct solar radiation. The temperature in degrees Celsius (or "Celsius
temperature") is used for most meteorological purposes.

In practice, it may not be economical to provide thermometers that meet the required
performance directly. Instead cheaper thermometers, calibrated against a laboratory
standard, are used with corrections being applied as necessary to their readings. It is
necessary to limit the size of the corrections to keep residual errors within bounds. Also,
the operational range of the thermometer will be chosen to reflect the local climatic
range. As an example, the Table 2.1 below gives an acceptable range of calibration and
errors for thermometers covering a typical measurement range. All temperature
measuring instruments should be issued with a certificate confirming compliance with
the appropriate uncertainty or performance specification, or a calibration certificate that
gives the corrections that must be applied to meet the required uncertainty. This initial
testing and calibration should be performed by a national testing institution or an
accredited calibration laboratory. Temperature-measuring instruments should also be
checked subsequently at regular intervals, the exact apparatus used for this calibration
being dependent on the instrument or sensor to be calibrated.

TABLE 2.1 Thermometer Characteristic Requirements

Thermometer type Ordinary Maximum Minimum

Range of

calibration (°C) –30 to 40 –25 to 40 –30 to 30

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Response Times of Thermometers

For routine meteorological observations there is no advantage in using thermometers

with a very small time constant or lag coefficient, since the temperature of the air
continually fluctuates up to a degree or two within a few seconds. Thus, to obtain a
representative reading with such a thermometer would require taking the mean of a
number of readings, whereas a thermometer with a larger time constant tends to
smooth out the rapid fluctuations. Too long a time constant, however, may result in
errors when long-period changes of temperature occur.

Recording the Circumstances in Which Measurements are Made

Temperature is one of the meteorological quantities whose measurements are

particularly sensitive to exposure. For climate studies in particular, temperature
measurements are affected by the state of the surroundings, by vegetation, by the
presence of buildings and other objects, by ground cover, by the condition of, and
changes in design of the radiation shield or screen, and by other changes in equipment.
It is important that records should be kept not only of the temperature data, but also of
the circumstances in which the measurements are made. Such information is known as
metadata i.e. data about data.

2.1.2 Liquid-In-Glass Thermometers

For routine observations of air temperature, including maximum, minimum and wet-bulb
temperatures, liquid-in-glass thermometers are still commonly used. Such
thermometers make use of the differential expansion of a pure liquid with respect to its
glass container to indicate the temperature. The stem is a tube having a fine bore
attached to the main bulb; the volume of liquid in the thermometer is such that the bulb
is filled completely but the stem is only partially filled at all temperatures to be
measured. The changes in volume of the liquid with respect to its container are
indicated by changes in the liquid column; by calibration with respect to a standard
thermometer, a scale of temperature can be marked on the stem, or on a separate
scale tightly attached to the stem.

The liquid used depends on the required temperature range; mercury is generally used
for temperatures above its freezing point (–38.3°C), while ethyl alcohol or other pure
organic liquids are used for lower temperatures. The glass should be one of the normal
or borosilicate glasses approved for use in thermometers. The glass bulb is made as
thin as is consistent with reasonable strength to facilitate the conduction of heat to and
from the bulb and its contents. A narrower bore provides greater movement of liquid in
the stem for a given temperature change, but reduces the useful temperature range of
the thermometer for a given stem length. The thermometer should be suitably annealed

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

before it is graduated in order to minimize the slow changes that occur in the glass with
ageing. There are four main types of construction for meteorological thermometers.

(a) The sheathed type with the scale engraved on the thermometer stem;

(b) The sheathed type with the scale engraved on an opal glass strip attached to the
thermometer tube inside the sheath;

(c) The unsheathed type with the graduation marks on the stem and mounted on a
metal, porcelain or wooden back carrying the scale numbers;

(d) The unsheathed type with the scale engraved on the stem.

The stems of some thermometers are lens-fronted to provide a magnified image of the
mercury thread. Types (a) and (b) have the advantage over types (c) and (d) that their
scale markings are protected from wear. For types (c) and (d), the markings may have
to be re-blackened from time to time; on the other hand, such thermometers are easier
to make than types (a) and (b). Types (a) and (d) have the advantage of being less
susceptible to parallax errors.

Whichever type is adopted, the sheath or mounting should not be unduly bulky as it
would keep the heat capacity high. At the same time, the sheath or mounting should be
sufficiently robust to withstand the normal risks of handling and transit. For mercury-in-
glass thermometers, especially maximum thermometers, it is important that the vacuum
above the mercury column be nearly perfect. All the thermometers should be graduated
for total immersion with the exception of thermometers for soil temperature.

Ordinary (station) Thermometers

This is the most accurate instrument of all the meteorological thermometers. Usually it is
a mercury-in-glass type. Its scale markings have an increment of 0.2 K or 0.5 K, and the
scale is longer than that of the other meteorological thermometers. The ordinary
thermometer is used in a thermometer screen to avoid radiation errors. A support keeps
it in a vertical position with the bulb at the lower end. The form of the bulb is that of a
cylinder or of an onion. A pair of ordinary thermometers can be used as a psychrometer
if one of them is fitted with a wet bulb sleeve.

Maximum Thermometers

The recommended type is a mercury-in-glass thermometer with a constriction in the

bore between the bulb and the beginning of the scale. This constriction prevents the
mercury column from receding with falling temperature. However, the thermometer can
be reset intentionally by the observer by holding it firmly, bulb-end downwards, and
swinging the arm until the mercury column is reunited. The maximum thermometer

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

should be mounted at an angle of about two degrees from the horizontal with the bulb at
the lower end to ensure that the mercury column rests against the constriction without
gravity forcing it to pass. It is desirable to have a widening of the bore at the top of the
stem to enable parts of the column which have become separated to be easily united.

FIGURE 2.1 Liquid Glass Thermometer

Minimum Thermometers

The most common instrument is a spirit thermometer with a dark glass index, about 2
cm long, immersed in the spirit. Since some air is left in the tube of a spirit thermometer,
a safety chamber should be provided at the upper end and it should be large enough to
allow the instrument to withstand a temperature of 50°C without damage. Minimum
thermometers should be supported in a similar manner to maximum thermometers, in a
near-horizontal position. Various liquids can be used in minimum thermometers, such
as ethyl alcohol, pentane and Toulon. It is important that the liquid should be as pure as
possible since the presence of certain impurities increases the tendency of the liquid to
polymerize with exposure to light and after the passage of time; such polymerization
causes a change in the calibration. In the case of ethyl alcohol, for example, the alcohol
should be completely free of acetone. Minimum thermometers are also exposed to
obtain grass minimum temperature.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 2.2 A Maximum –Minimum Thermometer

It is important to note that the minimum scale is inverted with the lower temperatures
above the higher. The observer should become accustomed to reading this "upside
down" scale, for which some care may be required to get accurate readings.

2.1.3 Thermometer Exposure and Ideal Site

 A thermometer should not be exposed freely in the open to avoid absorption of

considerable radiation which may result in difference between the observed
temperature and the true air temperature.

 For some thermometer elements, such as the very fine wire used in an open-wire
resistance thermometer, the difference may be very small or even negligible, but
with the more usual operational thermometers the temperature difference may reach
25 K under extremely unfavourable conditions.

 It is necessary to protect the thermometer from radiation by a screen or shield that

also serves to support the thermometer. This screen also shelters it from
precipitation while allowing the free circulation of air around it, and prevents
accidental damage.

 For general meteorological work, the observed air temperature should be

representative of the free air conditions surrounding the station over as large an area
as possible, at a height of between 1.2 and 2.0 m above ground level to avoid
possible large vertical temperature gradients in the lowest layers of the atmosphere

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 The best site for the measurements is, therefore, over level ground, freely exposed
to sunshine and wind and not shielded by, or close to, trees, buildings and other

 A site on a steep slope or in a hollow is subject to exceptional conditions and should

be avoided. In towns and cities, local peculiarities are expected to be more marked
than in rural districts.

 Observations of temperature on the top of buildings are of doubtful significance and

use because of the variable vertical temperature gradient and the effect of the
building itself on the temperature distribution.

FIGURE 2.3 An arrangement for Temperature Measurement using Stevenson Screen

2.1.4 Maintenance

 The most common fault encountered is the breaking of the liquid column, especially
during transit. This is most likely to occur in spirit (minimum) thermometers.

 Other problems associated with these thermometers are adhesion of the spirit to the
glass and the formation by distillation of drops of spirit in the support part of the bore.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 A broken liquid column can usually be reunited by holding the thermometer bulb-end
downward and tapping the thermometer lightly and rapidly against the fingers or
something else which is elastic and not too hard. The tapping should be continued
for some time (five minutes if necessary), and afterwards the thermometer should be
hung, or stood upright in a suitable container, bulb downward, for at least one hour
to allow any spirit adhering to the glass to drain down to the main column.

 If such treatment is not successful, then a more drastic method is to cool the bulb in
a freezing mixture of ice and salt, while keeping the upper part of the stem warm; the
liquid will then slowly distil back to the main column.

 Alternatively, the thermometer may be held upright with its bulb in a vessel of warm
water, while the stem is tapped or shaken from the water as soon as the top of the
spirit column reaches the safety chamber at the top of the stem.

 Great care must be taken when using this method as there is a risk of bursting the
thermometer if the spirit expands into the safety chamber. Another shortcoming of
unsheathed liquid-in-glass thermometers is that with time their scale can become
illegible. This can be corrected at the station by rubbing with a dark crayon or black
lead pencil.


2.2.1 Definitions

Specific humidity, q: The ratio between the mass of water vapour and the mass of
moist air.

Dew-point temperature, Td: The temperature at which moist air saturated with respect
to water at a given pressure has a saturation mixing ratio equal to the given mixing ratio.

Relative humidity, U: The ratio in per cent of the observed vapour pressure to the
saturation vapour pressure with respect to water at the same temperature and pressure.

Vapour pressure, e’: The partial pressure of water vapour in air.

Saturation vapour pressures, e’w and e’i: Vapour pressures in air in equilibrium with
surface of water and ice, respectively.

2.2.2 Units and Scales

The following units and symbols are normally used for expressing the most commonly
used quantities associated with water vapour in the atmosphere:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(a) Mixing ratio, and specific humidity (in kg kg-1);

(b) Vapour pressure in air and pressure p (in hPa);

(c) Temperature T, wet-bulb temperature Tw, dew-point temperature Td, and frost-point
temperature Tf (in K);

(d) Temperature t, wet -bulb temperature tw, dew-point temperature td, and frost-point
temperature tf (in °C);

(e) Relative humidity (in per cent).

2.2.3 Meteorological Requirements

Humidity measurements at the Earth’s surface are required for meteorological analysis
and forecasting, for climate studies, and for many special applications in hydrology,
agriculture, aeronautical services and environmental studies, in general. They are
particularly important for their relevance to the changes of state of water in the
atmosphere. General requirements for the range, resolution, and accuracy of humidity
measurements are given in Table 2.2. The achievable accuracies listed in the table
refer to good quality instruments that are well operated and maintained.

TABLE 2.2 Performance Requirements for Relative Humidity

Requirement Wet-bulb Relative Dew-point

temperature humidity temperature

Range –10 to 35°C 5–100% At least 50 K in

the range –60 to 35°C

Target accuracy 0.1 K high RH 1% high RH 0.1 K high RH

2.2.4 Methods of Measurement Hygrometers

Any instrument for measuring relative humidity is known as a hygrometer which is

broadly classified as Analog hygrometer and Digital hygrometer. The physical principles
most widely employed for hygrometry are:-

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• The Psychrometric method

• Gravimetric hygrometry
• Condensation methods
• Sorption methods
• Thermal
• Capacitive
• Resistive

FIGURE 2.4 Analog & Digital Hygrometer

2.2.5 Exposure: General Comments

The general requirements for the exposure of humidity sensors are similar to those for
temperature sensors, and a suitably positioned thermometer screen may be used for
that purpose. Particular requirements include:

(a) Protection from direct solar radiation, atmospheric contaminants, rain, and wind;

(b) Avoidance of the creation of a local microclimate within the sensor housing structure
or sampling device. Note that wood and many synthetic materials will adsorb or
desorb water vapour according to the atmospheric humidity.

2.2.6 Sources of Error: General Comments

Errors in the measurement of humidity may be caused by the following:


Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(a) Modification of the air sample, for example, by heat or water-vapour source or sink;

(b) Contamination of the sensor, for example, by dirt, sea spray;

(c) Calibration error, including pressure correction, temperature coefficient of sensor,

and electrical interface;

(d) Inappropriate treatment of water/ice phase;

(e) Poor instrument design, for example, stem heat conduction in the wet-bulb

(f) Incorrect operation, for example, failure to achieve stable equilibrium;

(g) Inappropriate sampling and/or averaging intervals.

The time-constant of the sensor, the time-averaging of the output and the data
requirement should be consistent. The different types of humidity sensors vary in their
susceptibility to, and the significance of, each of the above.

2.2.7 Maintenance

The following maintenance procedures should be considered:

(a) Cleanliness: Sensors and housings should be kept clean. Some sensors, e.g.
chilled-mirror and hair hygrometers, may be cleaned with distilled water and this
should be carried out regularly. Others, notably those having some form of
electrolyte coating but also some with a polymeric substrate, may on no account be
treated in this way. The provision of clear instructions for observers and
maintenance staff is vital;

(b) Checking and calibration of field instruments: Regular calibration is required for all
humidity sensors in the field.

For psychrometers, chilled-mirror, and heated ‘dew-point’ hygrometers that use a

temperature detector the calibration of that item can be checked whenever the regular
maintenance routine is performed. A comparison with a working reference hygrometer,
such as an Assmann psychrometer, should also be performed at least once a month.

Saturated salt solutions have applications with sensors that require only a small sample
volume. A very stable ambient temperature is required and it is difficult to be confident
about their use in the field. The use of a standard type of aspirated psychrometer, such
as the Assmann, as a field reference, has the advantage that its own integrity can be
verified through the facility to compare the dry- and wet-bulb thermometers, and that

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

adequate aspiration may be expected from a healthy sounding fan. The reference
instrument should itself be calibrated at intervals that are appropriate to its type.

It is important to check the calibration of electrical interfaces regularly and throughout

their operational range. A simulator may be used in place of the sensor for this purpose.
However, it will still remain necessary to calibrate the ensemble at selected points, since
the combination of calibration errors for sensor and interface which are individually
within specification may be outside the specification for the ensemble.


2.3.1 Definition

Solar radiation is the energy emitted by the Sun. The solar radiation incident on the top
of the terrestrial atmosphere is called extraterrestrial solar radiation; that 97per cent of it
that is confined to the spectral range 0.29 to 3.0 µm is called short-wave radiation. Part
of the extraterrestrial solar radiation penetrates through the atmosphere to the Earth’s
surface, while part of it is scattered and/or absorbed by the gas molecules, aerosol
particles, cloud droplets, and cloud crystals in the atmosphere.

Light is the radiation visible to the human eye. The spectral range of visible radiation is
defined by the spectral luminous efficiency for the standard observer. The lower limit is
taken to be between 360 and 400 nm and the upper limit to be between 760 and 830
nm (International Commission on Illumination (ICI)), 1987a). Thus, 99per cent of the
visible radiation lies between 400 and 730 nm. Radiation of wavelengths shorter than
about 400 nm is called ultraviolet, and longer than about 800 nm, infrared radiation.

2.3.2 Units

Radiant energy – Joule

Radiant flux – Watt

Radiant flux density – Watt/m2

Irradiance (Radiant flux of any origin incident onto an area element) -W m-2

Radiance - W m-2 sr-1

Radiant exposure - J m-2

2.3.3 Meteorological Requirements

Irradiance and radiant exposure are the quantities most commonly recorded and
archived, with averages and totals of over one hour. There are also many requirements

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

for data over shorter periods, down to one minute or even tens of seconds (for some
energy applications), and daily totals are frequently used. For climatologically purposes,
measurements of direct solar radiation are needed at fixed true solar hours, or at fixed
air-mass values. Radiation data is used in snowmelt runoff studies, evapo-transpiration
and many hydrological studies. For radiation measurements, it is particularly important
to record and make available information about the circumstances of the observations.
This includes the type and traceability of the instrument, its calibration history, and its
location, exposure and maintenance record.

2.3.4 Times of Observation

In a worldwide network of radiation measurements, it is important that the data be

homogeneous not only for calibration, but also for the times of observation. Therefore,
all radiation measurements should be referred to what is known in some countries as
Local Apparent Time and in others as True Solar Time.

2.3.5 Methods of Measurement

Meteorological radiation instruments are classified by using various criteria: the type of
variable to be measured, the field of view, the spectral response, the main use, etc. The
most important types of classification are listed below:-

TABLE 2.3 Instrument Classification

Instrument Classification Parameters to be measured

Absolute Pyrheliometer Direct solar radiation

Pyrheliometer Direct solar radiation

Direct solar radiation in broad spectral

Spectral Pyrheliometer

Direct solar radiation in narrow spectral

Sun photometer

a) Global radiation (b) Sky radiation (c)

Reflected solar radiation

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FIGURE 2..5 Solar Radiation Measuring Instrument


2.4.1 General

A sunshine recorder is a device that records the amount of sunshine at a given location
or region at any time. The results provide information about the weather and climate as
well as the temperature of a geographical a area.
rea. This information is useful in
meteorology, science, agriculture, tourism, and other fields. It has also been called a

The term sunshine is associated with the brightness of the solar disk exceeding the
background of diffuse sky light, or b better
etter observable by the human eyes with the
appearance of shadows behind illuminated objects. As such, the term is related more to
visual radiation than to energy radiated at other wavelengths, although both aspects are
inseparable. In practice, however, tthe
he first definition was established directly by the
relatively simple Campbell-Stokes
Stokes sunshine recorder, which detects sunshine if the
beam of solar energy concentrated by a special lens is able to burn a special dark paper
card. This recorder was already introduced in meteorological stations in 1880 and is still
used in many networks.

According to WMO (2003), sunshine duration during a given period is defined as the
period for which the direct solar irradiance exceeds 120 W m-2.
sum of that sub-period

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2.4.2 Units and Scales

The physical quantity of sunshine duration (SD) is evidently, time. The units used are
seconds or hours. For climatological purposes, derived terms such as “hours per day” or
“daily sunshine hours” are used, as well as percentage quantities, such as “relative daily
sunshine duration”.

2.4.3 Meteorological Requirements

Hours of sunshine should be measured with an uncertainty of ±0.1 hours and a

resolution of 0.1 hours. Since the number and the steepness of the threshold transitions
of direct solar radiation determine the possible uncertainty of sunshine duration, the
meteorological requirements on sunshine recorders are essentially correlated with the
climatological cloudiness conditions (WMO, 1985).

The requirements on sunshine recorders vary, depending on site and season, according
to the dominant cloud formation.

2.4.4 Methods of Measurement

The principles used for measuring sunshine duration and the pertinent types of
instruments are briefly listed in the following methods:

(a) Pyrheliometric method. Pyrheliometric detection of the transition of the direct solar
irradiance through the 120 Wm-2 threshold. Duration values readable from time
counters triggered by the appropriate upward and downward transitions.

Type of instrument: Pyrheliometer combined with an electronic or computerized

threshold discriminator and a time-counting device;

(b) Pyranometric method.

(i) Pyranometric measurement of global and diffuse solar irradiance to derive the
direct solar irradiance as the WMO threshold discriminator value and further as in
(a) above.

Type of instrument: all radiometer systems of two fitted pyranometers and one
sunshade device combined with an electronic or computerized threshold
discriminator and a time -counting device;

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(ii) Pyranometric measurement of global (G) solar irradiance to roughly estimate the
sunshine duration.
Type of instrument: a pyranometer combined with an electronic or computerized
device which is able to deliver 10-minute-means as well as minimum and
maximum of global (G) solar irradiance within those 10 minutes;

(c) Burn method. Threshold effect of paper burning caused by focused direct solar
radiation (heat effect of absorbed solar energy). The duration is read from the total
burn length.

Type of instrument: Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorders

FIGURE 2.6 Sunshine Duration Measuring Instrument

2.4.5 Sources of Error

General sources of uncertainty are:

(a) The calibration of the recorder (adjustment of the irradiance threshold equivalent

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(b) The typical variation of the recorder response due to meteorological conditions (e.g.
temperature, cloudiness, dust) and the position of the Sun (e.g. errors of direction,
solar spectrum);

(c) The misadjustment and instability of important parts of the instrument;

(d) The simplified or erroneous evaluation of the values measured;

(e) Erroneous time-counting procedures;

(f) Dirt and moisture on optical

2.4.6 Maintenance

The required maintenance routine for technicians consists of:

(a) Cleaning. The daily cleaning of the respective entrance windows is necessary for all
detectors, especially for scanning devices with small field-of-view angles.
Instruments without equipment to prevent dew and frost should be cleared more
than once on special days;

(b) Checking. The rotation of special (scanning) parts as well as the data-acquisition
system should be checked daily;

(c) Exchange of record. In Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorders, the burn card has to
be exchanged daily; in other devices, the appropriate data carriers have to be
replaced regularly;

(d) Adjustments. Adjustments are required if a seasonal change of the tilt of the
detector is recommended by the manufacturer, or possibly after severe storms.
Special parts of the detectors and of the data-acquisition systems used should
undergo maintenance by trained technicians or engineers according to the
appropriate instruction manuals.


2.5.1 Definitions

Wind speed, or wind flow velocity, is a fundamental atmospheric quantity. Wind speed is
caused by air moving from high pressure to low pressure, usually due to changes in
temperature. Wind direction is defined as the direction from which the wind blows, and
is measured clockwise from geographical north, i.e. true north.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

2.5.2 Units and Scales

Wind speed should be reported to a resolution of 0.5 ms-1 or in knots (0.515 ms-1) to the
nearest unit, and should represent, for synoptic reports, an average over 10 minutes.
Wind direction should be reported in degrees to the nearest 10 degrees, using a 01 ...
36 code (e.g. code 2 means that the wind direction is between 15 and 25°), and should
represent an average over 10 minutes. “Calm” should be reported when the average
wind speed is less than 1 knot. The direction in this case is coded as 00.

An accuracy for horizontal speed of 0.5 ms-1 below 5 ms-1 and better than 10 per cent
above 5 ms-1 is usually sufficient. Wind direction should be measured with an accuracy
of 5°. The required accuracy is easily obtained with modern instrumentation.

2.5.3 Meteorological Requirements

Wind observations or measurements are required for weather monitoring and

forecasting, for wind load climatology, for probability of wind damage and estimation of
wind energy, and as part of the estimation of surface fluxes, e.g. evaporation, for air
pollution dispersion and for agricultural applications. Apart from mean wind speed and
direction, many applications require standard deviations and extremes. In designing of
dams, wind velocity is used for calculating wave pressure during freeboard calculations.

2.5.4 Methods of Measurement and Observation

Surface wind is usually measured by a wind vane and cup or propeller anemometer.
When the instrumentation is temporarily out of operation or when it is not provided, the
direction and force of the wind may be estimated subjectively.

The sensors shown below are cup-rotor and propeller anemometers, and direction
vanes. Cup and vane, propeller and vane, and propellers alone are common

Other classical sensors such as the pitot tube are less used now for routine
measurements but can perform satisfactorily, while new types being developed or
currently in use as research tools may become practical for routine measurement with
advanced technology.

Cup and propeller anemometers are commonly used to determine the wind speed and
consist of two sub-assemblies: the rotor and the signal generator.

In well-designed systems, the angular velocity of the cup or propeller rotor is directly
proportional to the wind speed, or more precisely, in the case of the propeller rotor, to

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

the component of the wind speed parallel to the axis of rotation. Near the starting
threshold speed, however, substantial deviations from linearity can occur.

FIGURE 2.7 Cup and Propellor Anemometer

Direction may be estimated from a vane (or banner) mounted on a pole that has
pointers indicating the principal points of the compass. The vane is observed from
below and wind direction may be estimated to the nearest of the 16 points of the
compass. If the vane oscillates in the wind, then the direction of the wind must be
estimated as the average direction about which the oscillations occur.

For nearly all applications, it is necessary to measure the averages of wind speed and
direction. Many applications also need gustiness data. A wind-measuring system,
therefore, consists not only of a sensor, but also of a processing and recording system.
The processing takes care of the averaging and the computation of the standard
deviations and extremes. In its simplest form, the processing can be done by writing the
wind signal with a pen recorder and by estimating the mean and extreme by reading the

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 2.8 Wind Vane

2.5.5 Calibration and Maintenance

A fully reliable calibration of cup, propeller, and vane anemometers is possible only in a
wind tunnel; the performance of such instruments is now well known and the
manufacturer’s calibration can be relied upon for most purposes, when the instrument is
in good condition. Wind-tunnel tests are useful for special projects or for type-testing
new models.

In the field, anemometers are prone to deterioration and regular inspections are
advisable. A change in sensor characteristics leading to a deterioration in wind data
quality may occur as a result of physical damage, increase of bearing friction from
ingress of dust, or corrosion, or degradation of the transduction process (for example, a
reduction in the output of a cup or propeller generator as a result of brush wear).


2.6.1 Definition

The process by which water is changed from the liquid or solid state into the gaseous
state through the transfer of heat and wind energy is known as evaporation.

2.6.2 Factors Affecting Evaporation

The following are the major factors which influence the rate of evaporation:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

a) Vapour pressure difference between the water surface and the layer of air just above,

b) Temperature of both water and air,

c) Radiation,

d) Wind,

e) Atmospheric pressure,

f) Quality of water,

g) Heat storage in the water body, and

h) Size of evaporation surface.

2.6.3 Methods of Determining Evaporation from Free Water Surfaces

The following methods are in use to determine the rate of evaporation from open water

a) Water budget or storage equation method,

b) Mass (vapour) transfer method,

c) Energy budget or insolation method,

d) Measurement in an auxiliary pan (or tank) and correlate pan evaporation to natural
water surface evaporation, and

e) Empirical formulae and graphical methods.

Of the above methods, (a), (b) and (c) call for determination of parameters which are
difficult to assess while the pan measurements and the graphical methods have the
advantage of simplicity.

Measurement Using Pan Evaporimeters

For measurement of evaporation many types of pans are used. Among them the
following are more widely used:

• Class A Pan (Modified);

• Class A US Weather Bureau Land Pan;
• Class A US Weather Bureau Floating Pan;
• Colorado Sunken Pan;

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• US Weather Bureau of Plant Industry Sunken Pan;

• GGI-3000 Pan (Russian); and
• US Geological Survey Floating Pan.

A cylindrical tank of surface area 20 sqm and depth 2 m (Russian) which is claimed to
give shallow lake evaporation is also in use at some places. The standard Class A pan
is used in India.

 The pan evaporimeter consists of a cylindrical reservoir of fixed diameter and depth,
filled with water to a few centimeters below the rim.

 A fixed-point gauge in a stilling well serves to indicate the level of water in the pan. A
calibrated measuring cylinder is used to add or remove water at each observation to
bring the water level to the fixed point.

 The cross-sectional area of the measuring cylinder is such that, the number of
millimeters of water added from the measuring cylinder divided by 100 gives the
amount of water in millimeters which has evaporated from the pan during a given
interval of time. The reservoir is covered with wire-mesh netting to protect the pan
from birds and animals.

 The Class A pan consists of a large cylindrical pan, 1220 mm in diameter and 255
mm deep, made from 20 gauge (0.914 mm) copper sheet, tinned inside and painted
white outside (Figure 2.9).

 A stilling well provides an undisturbed water surface around the point of the fixed
point gauge by breaking any ripples that may be present in the main part of the pan.
It consists of a brass cylinder mounted on a heavy circular base, which ensures that
its position in the pan is not affected by the wind.

 Three small openings along the circumference of the cylinder 120° apart near the
base, permit the flow of water from or into the stilling well end and at the same time
restrict surging action of water at the point of measurement.

 The reference point is provided by the brass rod, fixed at the centre of the stilling
well and tapered to end in a point, exactly 190 mm above the base of the pan.

 The pan rests on white-painted wooden stand which ensures that the bottom of the
pan is above the level of surface water in rainy weather.

 It is covered with wire netting of standard mesh in order that loss of water from the
pan due to extraneous agents such as birds and animals may be avoided.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 A thermometer to measure surface temperature of the water is fixed with a clamp to

the side of the pan so that the bulb dips 50 mm below the water surface.

FIGURE 2.9 Class A Pan Evaporimeter

To calculate the evaporation it is necessary to measure the rainfall and the water level
in the pan at the same time.

A. Read the rain gauge every day at 8:30 hrs to get the past 24 hours cumulative

B. Class A Pan Evaporimeter reading:

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Case1: Water level in the pan is below the fixed point gauge:

i. Take the measuring cylinder and fill it completely with water and start pouring the
water slowly in the Pan Evaporimeter and keep a tab on the fixed point gauge. Stop
pouring the water as soon as the water level in the Pan touches the top of the fixed
point gauge.

ii. Observe/measure the amount of water (in mm) poured into the Pan Evaporimeter.

iii. The actual evaporation during the past 24 hours is the amount of water (mm) added
to the Pan Evaporimeter + the rainfall (mm) occurred during the past 24 hours.

Case2: Water level in the pan is above the fixed point gauge:

i. Take the measuring cylinder and start removing the water using the measuring
cylinder till the water level touches the fixed point gauge.

ii. Observe/measure the amount of water (in mm) taken out into the Pan

iii. The actual evaporation during the past 24 hours is the amount of water (mm)
removed from the Pan Evaporimeter - the rainfall (mm) occurred during the past 24

2.6.4 Location of Evaporation Stations

The following are the recommendations of the World Meteorological Organization

regarding minimum network of evaporation stations:

• Arid regions - One station for every 30000 km2,

• Humid temperate regions - One station for every 50000 km2, and
• Cold regions - One station for every 100000 km2.

The object of a network is to ensure that the average and extreme values of a
parameter at any point in the region covered by the network are obtained with sufficient
accuracy by interpolation of data of the stations in the network. Evaporation values from
pans show small area and time variation. As pan evaporation data has to be
meteorological processed to obtain estimates of evaporation from a natural surface, the
evaporimeter is required to be located in a meteorological station only.

2.6.5 Pan Evaporation Measurement Errors

Observer errors - the observer over- or under-fills the pan - such values should be
compensated for the following day

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Instrument errors:

 Leakage - this is the most serious problem and it occurs usually at the joint between
the base and the side wall. Small leaks are often difficult to detect in the field but
may have a significant systematic effect on measured evaporation totals

 Animals may gain access to the pan, especially if the wire mesh is damaged

 Algae and dirt in the water will reduce the measured rate of evaporation

 Errors arise in periods of high rainfall when the depth caught by the rain-gauge is
different in depth from the depth caught in the pan as a result of splash or wind
eddies round the gauges

2.6.6 Correcting Pan Evaporation Data

Pan evaporation data are corrected or infilled using evaporation estimates obtained
from the Penman method computed from other climate variables. The pan coefficient for
the season has to be derived first, using the available reliable records on climate data
and pan evaporation.

2.6.7 Coefficients for Evaporation Pans

The ratio of evaporation from a free water surface to that from an adjacent pan is known
as the Pan-Coefficient. The coefficient of Class A Pan (Modified), being used in India is
found to vary between 1.10 and 0.90 for lake evaporation of the order of 4 to 5 mm/day
and between 0.75 and 0.65 for lake evaporation of the order of 10 mm/day. The ratio is
about 0.8 for transition months.

2.6.8 Maintenance of Evaporation Pans and Tanks

An inspection should be carried out at least once a month, with particular attention
being paid to the detection of leaks. The pan should be cleaned out as often as
necessary to keep it free from litter, sediment, scum, and oil films. The addition of a
small amount of copper sulphate, or of some other suitable algaecide, in the water is
recommended to restrain the growth of algae.

If the water freezes, then all the ice should be broken away from the sides of the tank
and the measurement of the water level should be made while the ice is floating.
Provided this is done, the fact that some of the water is frozen will not significantly affect
the water level. If the ice is too thick to be broken; the measurement should be
postponed until it can be broken; the evaporation should, then, be determined for the
extended period. It is often necessary to protect the pan from birds and other small
animals, particularly in arid and tropical regions.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

This may be achieved by the use of:

(a) Chemical repellents. In all cases where such protection is used, care must be taken
not to change significantly the physical characteristics of the water in the

(b) A wire mesh screen supported over the pan. Standard screens of this type are in
routine use in a number of areas. They prevent water loss caused by birds and
animals, but also reduce the evaporation loss by partly shielding the water from solar
radiation and by reducing wind movement over the water surface. In order to obtain
an estimate of the error introduced by the effect of the wire mesh screen on the wind
field and the thermal characteristics of the pan, it is advisable to compare readings
from the protected pan with those of a standard pan at locations where interference
does not occur. Tests with a protective cylinder made of 25 mm hexagonal-mesh,
steel wire netting supported by an 8 mm steel-bar framework showed a consistent
reduction of 10% in the evaporation rate at three different sites over a two-year


2.7.1 General

An Automatic Weather Station (AWS) is an automated version of the traditional

weather station, either to save human labour or to enable measurements from remote
areas. Automatic weather stations are used for increasing the number and reliability of
surface observations. They achieve this by:

(a) Providing data from new sites and from sites that are difficult to access and

(b) Supplying, for manned stations, data beyond the normal working hours;

(c) Increasing the reliability of measurements by using sophisticated technology and

modern, digital measurement techniques;

(d) Ensuring the homogeneity of networks by standardizing the measuring techniques;

(e) Reducing human errors;

(g) Measuring and reporting with high frequency or continuously.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

2.7.2 Instruments

An AWS will typically consist of a weather-proof enclosure containing the data

logger, rechargeable battery, telemetry (optional) and the meteorological sensors with
an attached solar panel or wind turbine and mounted upon a mast. The specific
configuration may vary due to the purpose of the system. The system may report in
near real time via the Argos System and the Global Telecommunications System, or
save the data for later recovery.

FIGURE 2.10 Diagram of a Typical Automatic Weather Station

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 2.11 Image of a Typical Automatic Weather Station Sensors

Most automatic weather stations have

• Thermometer for measuring temperature

• Anemometer for measuring wind speed

• Wind vane for measuring wind direction

• Hygrometer for measuring humidity

• Barometer/pressure transducer for measuring atmospheric pressure

Some stations can also have

• Ceilometer for measuring cloud height

• Present weather sensor and/or visibility sensor

• Rain gauge for measuring liquid-equivalent precipitation

• Ultrasonic snow depth sensor for measuring depth of snow

• Pyranometer for measuring solar radiation

meteorological Observation Manual Data-logger

The data-logger
logger is the heart of the Automatic Weather Station. In high quality weather
station, the data-logger
logger is designed by the supplier to have the solution which is perfect
for meteorological observations.

FIGURE 2.12 Data-logger for Automatic Weather Station

The main function of a data-logger

logger are:

• Measures: the data-logger

logger collects the information of each sensors and archive

• Calculates: the data-logger

logger processes most of the meteorological data for the
users (avg, min, max...).

• Data storage: the data

logger saves all the data either on it own memory or on
uSD memory card.

• Power supply: the data

data-logger manages the power
ower supply of the Automatic
Weather Station such as solar panel.

• Communication: the data

logger does manage the communication protocols with
the remote server. The different communication protocols are usually GSM,
GPRS, RTC, WIFI, USD, and RS232. Enclosures
Enclosures used with automatic weather stations are typically weather proof
fiberglass, ABS or stainless steel
steel,, With ABS being the cheapest, cast aluminium paint or
stainless steel the most durable and fiberglass being a compromise.

meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 2.13 Enclosures with Solar Panel for Data

Logger of Weather Station Power Supply

The main power source for an automatic weather station depends on its usage. Many
stations with lower power equ
ipment usually use one or more solar panels connected in
parallel with a regulator and one or more rechargeable batteries. As a rule of thumb,
solar output is at its optimum
um for only 5 hours each day. As such, mounting angle and
position are vital. In the Northern Hemisphere, the solar panel would be mounted facing
south and vice versa for the Southern Hemisphere. The output from the solar panels
may be supplemented by a wi wind
nd turbine to provide power during periods of poor
sunlight, or by direct connection to the local electrical grid. Mast

The standard mast heights used with automatic weath

er stations are 2, 3, 10 and 30
meters. A common application is to take measurements
asurements of wind,
humidity and temperature at 30, 10, and 2 meters. Other sensors are mounted around
the 2 meter or lower height.

2.7.3 Points to Consider

When considering the introduction of new AWS instrument systems, Power Stations

(a) Consider
der only sufficiently well documented systems so as to provide adequate
knowledge and understanding of their capabilities and characteristics

(b) Retain or develop sufficient technical expertise to enable them to specify system
requirements and to assess tthe he appropriateness of the capabilities and
characteristics of such systems

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(c) Explore fully user requirements

(d) Engage users in validation and evaluation of the new automated systems;

(e) Engage manufacturers in the system assessment and need for improvements in

(f) Develop detailed guides and documentation on the systems to support all users;

(g) Develop adequate programmes for maintenance and calibration support of the AWS;

(h) In cases where an AWS replaces a manual observing system that has been in
operation for a long time, a sufficient overlap in observation systems to facilitate
maintaining the homogeneity of the historical record must be assured. The overlap
time is dependent on the different measured variables and on the climate region. In
tropical regions and islands, the overlap time could be shorter than in extra tropical
and mountainous regions. The following general guidelines are suggested for a
sufficient operational overlap between existing and new automated systems:

• Wind speed and direction:12 months

• Temperature, humidity, sunshine, evaporation: 24 months

• Precipitation: 60 months


The data observed should be sent regularly on monthly basis to Hydrology Section,
Design & Engineering Division in the following formats enclosed as Annexure-2.A to







Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual


1. IS code – 4610-1968 Specification for Glass Tubes for General Purpose and
Reference Thermometers
2. WMO No. 8 – 2006 Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of
3. IS code –5973-1998 Pan Evaporimeter – Specification
4. IS code –6939-1992 Evaporation from Reservoir
5. SP 61 (1994): General guidelines for automatic weather stations
6. Central Water Commission- Jan 2017: “Handbook for Hydro-meteorological

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual



STATION :--------------- MONTH & YEAR :------

TIME OF OBSERVATION : --------------




Signature of (Sup./JE/AE)
Signature of (AM/DM/Mgr.)

Issued By: Approved

(DDC) by: HOD
REV NO. 00
Eff Date:
19.01.2018 Date:19.01.2018 Date:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual




STATION :--------------- MONTH & YEAR :-----------

TIME OF OBSERVATION:------------ ALTITUDE :-------------

Date Sunshine (Hours)


Signature of (Sup./JE/AE)
Signature of (AM/DM/Mgr.)

Issued By: Approved

IMS/DED/F-17 (DDC) by: HOD
REV NO. 00
Eff Date:19.01.2018 Date:19.01.2018 Date:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual




SITE: -------- MONTH & YEAR :--------------

Date Evaporation in mm


Signature of (Sup./JE/AE)
Signature of (AM/DM/Mgr.)

Issued By: Approved by:

REV NO. 00
Eff Date:19.01.2018 Date:19.01.2018 Date:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual



River:---------- Site:---------
Month& Year:-------
Date (Km/H) (DEGREE) 0 (mm) (mm)
( C)
Max. Min Avg. Max. Min Avg. Max. Min Avg. Max. Min Avg. Max. Min. Avg. Max. Min. Avg.


Signature of (Sup./JE/AE)

Signature of (AM/DM/Mgr.)

IMS/DED/F-05 Issued Approved By:

REV NO. 00 By: (HOD)
Eff (DDC)

Date:24.07.2014 Date:24.07.2014

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual




The term “precipitation” includes all forms of water in solid or liquid form e.g. rainfall,
snowfall, hail, sleet, drizzle etc. that reach the earth surface from the atmosphere and it
is expressed as the depth (in mm) to which it would cover a horizontal area at the
ground level in liquid form.

Types of Precipitation (based on lifting mechanism of moist air to a level where

condensation of water vapour takes place to form rain drops):

 Cyclonic, and

Climatic Seasons

 South-west monsoon (June-September)

 Transition-I, Post monsoon (October-November)
 Winter season (December-February), and
 Transition-II, Summer (March-May)

Monsoons: South-west and North-east.

Some 70 to 80 % of the annual rainfall over peninsular India occurs during south-west
monsoon months. The Southwest monsoon onsets on 1st June over Kerala and
covering other States by 7th July. The withdrawal starts from 1st September from
Gujarat and the Southwest monsoon reverses to Northeast monsoon in October. It
causes rainfall over Tamil Nadu and adjoining States and finally withdraws by 1st
December. The average annual rainfall for the entire country is estimated as 120 cm.

In order to estimate the effect of precipitation, it is necessary to measure the

precipitation and to find out its distribution. The simplest method of measuring
precipitation is by setting up gauges with a horizontal circular aperture of known area
and collecting and measuring at regular intervals the precipitation collected in them. The

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

two important parts of precipitation are measured separately by measuring devices

called rain gauges and snow gauges.


A rain gauge is a type of instrument used by meteorologists and hydrologists to gather

and measure the amount of liquid precipitation over a set period of time. The raingauge
consists essentially of a collector which intercepts the sample of rainfall to be measured
and a receiver consisting of a base and a bottle in which the rainfall collected is stored.
The collector is exposed above ground level while the receiver is fixed partially below
ground level.

Types of Raingauge

Non-recording Raingauge:

 Standard Rain Gauge (SRG)

Recording Raingauges:

 Autographic natural syphon raingauge (ARG), and

 Tipping Bucket raingauge (TBR)

Rainfall is also measured by Automatic Weather Station. Generally, rainfall measuring

component of Automatic Weather Station is Tipping Bucket raingauge.

3.2.1 Non-recording Raingauge:

• The most extensively used non-recording raingauge in India is Symon’s gauge. Now-
a-days, standard raingauge made up of Fibre Glass Reinforced Polyester (FRP) is
being used.
• They do not record the rain, but only collects the rain
• The collected rain is then measured by means of graduated cylinders
• Based on Symon’s Gauge, Indian Meteorological Department has adopted a model
called Standard Gauge

The collectors area as per IS code: 5225 (1992) are 100 cm2 & 200 cm2 and collector
bottles size are 2 Ltr, 4 Ltr & 6 Ltr. The essential parts of a standard raingauge as
shown in the Figure 3.2 are:

 A collector (funnel) with a gun metal or aluminium rim of circular shape

 A base
 A polythene bottle, and
 A measure glass appropriate to funnel area.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

The rain falling into the funnel collects in the bottle kept inside the base and is
measured by a measure glass.

FIGURE 3.1 Non-recording Type (Symon’s Rain Gauge)

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.2 Standard Raingauge

3.2.2 Recording Raingauges:

Recording type (also called as self-recording, automatic or integrating rain gauge) has
an automatic mechanical arrangement consisting of a clockwork, a drum with a graph
paper fixed around it and a pencil point, which draws the mass curve of rainfall. Short
period rainfall in India has been measured in the past almost invariably using the natural
siphon recording gauge. The record is produced on a chart and is therefore referred to
as autographic. A number of alternatives are also now available both with respect to the

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

sensor and the means of recording or logging but the natural siphon will continue to be
the mainstay of the network in the immediate future.

FIGURE 3.3 Self Recording Rain Gauge (Rangit Power Station)

3.2.3 Different Types of Recording Rain Gauges:

Tipping bucket gauge, weighing gauge and float gauge.

Tipping Bucket Raingauge

This consists of a cylindrical receiver 30 cm diameter with a funnel inside. Just below
the funnel a pair of tipping buckets is pivoted such that when one of the bucket receives
a rainfall of 0.25 mm/l mm it tips and empties into a tank below, while the other bucket
takes its position and the process is repeated. Each time the bucket tips, a magnet
actuates a read switch fitted on the casting. The magnet is fixed to a vertical rod
attached to the spindle. The number of contacts of the switch transmitted by the
recorder and stored in a data logger. In the other arrangement, the tipping of the bucket
actuates on electric circuit which causes a pen to move on a chart wrapped round a
drum which revolves by a clock mechanism. This type of raingauge cannot record snow
unless it is fitted with heating mechanism.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.4 Tipping Bucket Raingauge

Weighing Type Raingauge

In this type of raingauge, when a certain weight of rainfall is collected in a tank, which
rests on a spring-lever balance, it makes a pen to move on a chart wrapped round a
clock-driven drum. The rotation of the drum sets the time scale while the vertical motion
of the pen records the cumulative precipitation.

FIGURE 3.5 Weighing Raingauge

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Float type Raingauge

The rain is collected in a float chamber, the float moves up which makes a pen to move
on a chart wrapped round a clock driven drum. When the float chamber fills up, the
water siphons out automatically through a siphon tube kept in an interconnected siphon
chamber. The clockwork revolves the drum once in 24 hours. The clock mechanism
needs rewinding once in a week when the chart wrapped round the drum is also
replaced. This type of gauge is used by India Meteorological Department.

FIGURE 3.6 Float Type Raingauge


Snowfall is the amount of fresh snow deposited over a limited period. Measurements
are made of depth and water equivalent. Direct measurements of fresh snow on open
ground are made with a graduated ruler or scale.

• A Snow Gauge is a type of instrument used by the meteorologist and hydrologists to

gather and measure the amount of solid precipitation.

• The snow gauge consists of two parts, a copper catchment container and the funnel
shaped gauge.

• The snowgauge consists of a 60 cm deep collector having an area of 500 cm2

mounted inside in Alter pattern wind shield one metre in diameter.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• The gauge with its shield is installed on stand pipe support so that the orifice of the
collector is at a height of 1.5 m above the ground when installed on the concrete
platform rising 10 cm from ground level.

• Solid precipitation collected in the gauge is melted and the precipitation in

millimeters is measured using the measuring glass.

FIGURE 3.7 Snow Gauge

• A mean of several vertical measurements should be made in places where there is

considered to be an absence of drifting snow (i.e snow lifted from the surface by the
wind, at a height of 8 feet (2 m) or less).

• Special precautions should be taken so as not to measure old snow. This can be
done by sweeping a suitable patch clear beforehand or covering the top of the snow
surface with a piece of suitable material (such as wood, with a slightly rough surface,
painted white) and measuring the depth down to this.

• On a sloping surface (to be avoided if possible), measurements should also be

made with the measuring rod in a vertical position.

• If there is a layer of old snow it would be incorrect to calculate the depth of a

snowfall from the difference between two consecutive measurements of the total
depth of the fresh and old snow, because of the continuous settling of the old snow.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• Where strong winds have occurred, a large number of measurements should be

made to obtain a representative depth.

• The depth of snow may also be measured in a fixed container of uniform cross-
section after the snow has been leveled without being compressed. The container
should be well above the average snow level, for example, at least 50 cm above the
maximum observed level, and not exposed to drifting snow.

• The receiver should be at least 20 cm in diameter and should either be sufficiently

deep to protect the catch from being blown out or else be fitted with a snow cross,
that is, two vertical partitions at right angles, subdividing it into quadrants.

• Ordinary unshielded receivers are unreliable when the wind is strong because of the
wind eddies around the mouth of the receiver. Their catch is usually much less than
that of a shielded gauge. However, large errors may be caused, in spite of the use of
a shield, by the collection of drifting snow. Such errors can be reduced by mounting
the gauges 3 to 6 m above the surface.

Water Equivalent of Snowfall

The water equivalent of a snowfall is the amount of liquid precipitation contained in that
snowfall. It should be determined by one of the methods given below. It is important to
take several representatives samples:

(a) Weighing or melting:

Cylindrical samples of fresh snow are taken with a suitable snow sampler and either
weighed (the column of snow is known as a snow pillar) or melted;

(b) Using raingauges

Snow collected in a non-recording raingauge should be melted immediately and

measured by means of an ordinary measuring cylinder graduated for rainfall.


Rain gauge site should be selected suitably by considering following points (IS

• The gauge shall be placed on level ground not upon a slope or terrace and never on
a wall or roof.

• On no account the raingauge shall be placed on a slope such that the ground falls
away steeply on the side of the prevailing wind.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• The distance between the raingauge and the nearest object should generally be four
times the height of the object, but never shall be less than twice the height of the

• Great care shall be taken at mountain and coastal stations that the gauges are not
unduly exposed to the sweep of the wind. A belt of trees or a wall on the side of the
prevailing wind at a distance, preferably four times its own height but exceeding at
least twice its height, shall form an efficient shelter.

• Windbreaks of a single row of trees or a building (currently present or to be

constructed) should be avoided as they tend to increase the turbulence (WMO,

• Where the observations have to be made on an extensive sloping surface such as

the side of a mountain, effort should be made to expose the gauge on a smooth side
which is sufficiently large in area and whose slope and orientation correspond to the
average slope and orientation of the surrounding. The raingauge should be installed
on stable slopes in hilly areas.


The amount of rainfall at a station in a specified period is measured as the depth to

which it would cover a flat surface. The raingauge must be calibrated initially before
starting observation.

3.5.1 Non-recording Raingauge

• To measure the rainfall, the water in the bottle shall be poured into the glass
measuring cylinder (See IS 4849) which shall be placed on a level surface. Care
shall be taken to avoid spilling of the collected water. The eye shall then be brought
horizontal at the bottom of the curved surface of the water (meniscus) and its
reading shall be taken. If the bottom surface of the water rests between two
divisions, the rainfall should be estimated to the nearest 0.1 mm.

• If there is more water in the bottle, than the measuring glass can hold, the glass
shall be filled up nearly to the top most graduation mark and the reading noted shall
be written down. This water shall then be thrown away and the above process
repeated till all the water collected has been individually measured and written down.
The total rainfall shall be the sum of all these measurement.

• The rain water in the gauge shall be measured every day at 0830 h Indian Standard
Time (IST) and the raingauge shall be examined every day at that hour even when
in the observer’s opinion no rain has fallen.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• The observer at each station shall maintain a written record of the rainfall measured
at 0830 h Indian Standard Time daily. A recommended format in which the record is
to be maintained is given as Annexure-3.A. The amount of rainfall measured shall
be entered against the date of measurement irrespective of the fact whether the
rainfall was received on the date of measurement or on the previous date.

• Raingauge of appropriate capacity as specified in IS: 5225 shall be used to ensure

the measurement of extremes of rainfall in the event of the observer being unable to
take observations repeatedly on the day of such heavy rainfall.

• If it is raining at the time of observation, all operations shall be completed as quickly

as possible to avoid errors. If rainfall is heavy at the time of observation, a spare
bottle shall be placed inside the receiver immediately after the one inside is taken
out for measurement, in order that no rain is missed during the interval. The bottle
shall then be replaced quickly and the rainfall collected in the spare bottle shall be
poured into it.

• If owing to neglect of the specified directions, the bottle has over-flown, the overflow
receiver shall be taken up, and its contents measured and added to those of the
bottle. If there is water in the overflow receiver when the bottle is not full, the bottle
should be examined for leaks.

• In order to avoid damage to the rim of the collector, the following procedure should
be adopted while handling the raingauge.

• The collector should be removed gently and held in one hand.

• The receiver should be taken out with the other hand.

• The collector should be replaced.

• After measurement of the rainfall, the collector should be again removed and held in
one hand and the receiver should be restored to its position in the raingauge with the
other hand.

• The collector should be replaced in its prescribed position for locking.

• If snow or other solid precipitation accumulates in the receptacle, pour in a known

amount of warm water to melt it and measure the total amount of water, then
subtract the amount added from the total. If the amount of precipitation is large,
repeat measurement and then add the individual totals obtained.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

3.5.2 Recording Raingauge

• Natural syphon rain gauge is frequently used to measure short period rainfall.

• It consists of a Circular collector funnel and rainfall recording mechanism.

• The collector has a gun metal rim, 200 mm diameter and is fixed at 750 mm above
ground level. The funnel leads to a chamber in which float is located. The float rises
when rain water enters the chamber. A syphon chamber is attached to the float

• After 10 mm of rainfall has fallen the float rises to a certain level and the syphon
action is initiated.

• A pen is attached to the float and records rainfall on a chart placed on a drum in the
form of rise of the float.

• After water is siphoned out, the float returns to the original position.

• The recording raingauge produces a continuous record of the rainfall in a cumulative


• As a standard the continuous record is discretised to hourly totals the record is

maintained in the format given as Annexure-3.B.

• The recording raingauge is always used in combination with a non-recording rain


• The daily totals of the recording and non-recording gauge are compared and
generally the recording raingauge record is adjusted to the non-recording gauge

• In case of raingauge fitted with data logger, the data is retrieved with the help of
suitable data downloader & relevant software.

• In case raingauge is a part of Automatic Weather Station having facility to transmit

data to some central location, the data is received & recorded in real time.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.8 Measurement from a Self Recording Rain Gauge


3.6.1 Non Recording Type

• The rain gauge shall be fixed on a masonry or concrete foundation 600 mm x 600 mm
x 600 mm sunk into the ground. It may also be fixed using steel structure. Into this
foundation, the base of the gauge shall be cemented so that the rim of the gauge is
horizontal and exactly 300 mm above ground level. In flood prone areas the level of
the rain gauge shall be kept 300 mm above the maximum flood line.

• The rain gauge shall be protected from being damaged (particularly by stray cattle)
by erecting a fence around it. The rain gauge shall be kept locked and periodically
painted to prevent its surface from corroding or deteriorating.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.9 Installation of Non Recording type Rain Gauge

3.6.2 Recording Type

• The raingauge shall be installed on a concrete or masonry platform 600 cm cube

erected from hard soil surface.

• The Gauge should be so installed that the rim of the funnel is truly horizontal and at
a height of exactly 750 mm above the ground level

• The recording raingauge shall be installed in an enclosure by the side of the non
recording raingauge preferably at a distance of about 3 m from it. If it is not possible,
the two raingauges shall be separated from each other by a distance not less than
1.5 m.

• Remove the cover and wrap the appropriate chart on the clock drum taking care to
see that corresponding horizontal lines on the overlapping portions are coincident.

• Pour sufficient water into the tube leading to the float chamber till the water begins to
siphon. After siphoning is complete, and the pen has become steady, the pen should
rest against the zero line on the chart.

• The rain gauges are set and calibrated before they are dispatched to the station.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• Put sufficient ink in the pen.

• The chart is changed at the same time each day, usually between 0830 hrs to 0900
hrs in Indian standard Time.

• Set the pen to the correct IST to the nearest minute by rotating the drum. Allow the
pen to trace the record by itself.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.10 Installation of Recording-type Rain Gauge


• Observing systems and instrumentation must be regularly maintained so that the

observations do not deteriorate in quality and reliability. This includes
“housekeeping” of the site such as cutting of the grass, cleaning of the instruments
and performing recommended checks by observers or other on-site staff.
Equipment should be repaired or replaced within prescribed time intervals that take
into account life expectancies of instrumentation.

• Maintenance cycles are also determined by the type of equipment and operating
environment. For example, in climates where seasonal changes determine start and
end of the observing program, tipping bucket rain gauges sites should be visited
twice a year, at the beginning of the season and at the end to close the program.

• All-weather precipitation weighing gauge sites may have to be visited several times
a year to prevent overflow and re-charge the anti-freeze and oil solutions,
depending on the gauge capacity and climatic conditions.

• Routine maintenance and inspection usually take place concurrently. It is

recommended by WMO that Ordinary Climatological Stations be inspected at least
once every three years, principal climate stations at least once a year and AWSs at
least twice a year. Without strict adherence to prescribed inspection and
maintenance programs and schedules, the quality of AWS observations can
deteriorate dramatically and rapidly.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• Before visiting a station, inspectors and maintainers should be aware of all

information available for the station, including recent trends in data quality, date and
type of last repairs, calibrations, etc.

The rain gauge should be regularly checked for dirt and debris in the funnel. In the rainy
season, the wire-gauge filter should be cleaned once a week or immediately after a
thunderstorm or dust storm. The inside of the glass disc should be kept clean. This is
very necessary for proper siphoning. For cleaning the receiver, the float and the funnel,
proceed as follows (CWC manual, Jan 2017):

i. Lift off the cover, remove the chart drum and the three thumb nuts. Remove the
three small screws and washers, who hold the receiver lid in place. Gently lift the
float from the chamber.

ii. To clean the float chamber, lift it off the base, flush it out with water after
unscrewing the hexagonal nut.

iii. To clean the siphon tube, unscrew the top cap and see if the fibre gasket is in
good condition. Then remove the glass disc and lift off the conical brass head with
a bent pin. Clean the siphon tube. After cleaning, reassemble the parts carefully.

iv. Next, the hallite washer between the float chamber and siphon is checked. The
chamber should be replaced, if it leaks at this joint.

v. The time of siphoning should be checked occasionally, to see whether the outlet
tube is choked. The time taken for this should be 15 to 20 seconds.

vi. Special ink is used in the pen to obtain a thin and fine trace on the chart. During
summer, a minute drop of glycerine may be added to reduce evaporation of the ink
from the nib. The tip of the nib is kept clean with methylated spirit.

vii. Minor leaks or cracks in the body of the rain gauge can be sealed by using
adhesive material.

The following are typical problems, which arise and cause the instrument to become out
of adjustment. The listed actions may be used to correct.

i. Incorrect siphoning: the float may not go up to the 10 mm mark but siphoning takes


a. Check and adjust the levelling of the float chamber using a spirit level.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

b. Reduce the friction by rubbing the float rod with a lead pencil.

c. Check whether the threaded collar is limiting the movement of the float. If so,
raise the collar slightly after loosening the set-screw.

ii. Unstable zero: when no rain, the trace on the chart is not along the zero line.

a. Check the alignment of the drum

b. Check the wrapping of the chart on the drum. If a fault appears in the drum, it
should be replaced.

iii. Prolonged siphoning: siphon tube is partly blocked.


a. To clear the siphon tube, unscrew the top cap, remove the fibre gasket, glass
disc and then lift off the conical brass head with a bent pin. Clear the tube by
pushing a piece of soft wire through it. Clean and replace the conical brass head
and glass disc. Change the fibre washers, if necessary.

iv. Gradual fall of pen: either due to a leak in the float chamber or the pen arm is
loose on the float rod.


a. For the leak at the joint of the float chamber and siphon chamber, the hallite
washers between them should be replaced.

b. Tighten the pen arm properly on the float rod.

v. Siphoning occurs after more than 10 mm of rain occurs: this happens if the float
develops a leak.


a. Float is to be replaced.

vi. During the period of heavy rainfall siphoning may be triggered before the pen
reaches the 10 mm line.


a. Take it that each siphon represents 10 mm of rain.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

vii. Keep the observatory enclosure locked, clean and fencing intact.


Whereas planning and management requires data with intervals of days, decades,
months or seasons, for design particularly short duration rainfall data is required, with
intervals of typically as from 15 minutes onward for extreme events. Generally, stations
in urban areas require smallest measuring interval. Therefore the following sampling
intervals are applied:

 Stations equipped with an standard raingauge (SRG) only, a sampling interval of 1

day is applied and the rainfall is observed at 0830 hrs. Frequent observations are
required in case of heavy rainfall to avoid overflow due to limited capacity of the
raingauge container. SRG’s located at Full Climatic Stations are read twice daily at
0830 and 1730 hrs.

 Stations equipped with an autographic siphon type raingauge, the recorder chart will
be digitised to hourly values at the clock hours. If the storm total exceeds 100 mm
and the intensity at least in one hour exceeds 12 mm then 15 minutes rainfall will be
extracted at the clock quarters.

The use of a digital recorder based on the tipping bucket principle provides an
opportunity for more flexible recording of short period rainfall. Such raingauges may be
programmed to operate in one of two modes (and occasionally in both simultaneously):

(i) Time mode:

Rainfall may be observed and stored for any selected data interval, e.g. 5, 15, 30
minutes, 1 hour etc., as the accumulation of tips of given volume within the selected
interval. The standard interval will be 1 hour unless local circumstances require a
shorter or larger interval.

(ii) Event mode:

Each individual tip of, say, 0.5 mm or 1.0 mm, can be stored with the associated time of
its occurrence creating, in effect a non-equidistant time series. From this record, a
record of rainfall for any selected interval may be automatically created. Similarly,
maximums during a given time period, say one month, can be automatically extracted
for 15, 30 minutes, 1 hour or other time interval. Where tipping bucket rain gauges are
used, the event mode is recommended.

Measuring Frequencies as per Indian Meteorological Department (IMD):

IMD applies following measuring frequencies:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• At stations in the world-wide routine collection of hydro-meteorological data collection

programme observations are taken simultaneously at the standard hours of 0000,
0300, 0600, 0900, 1200, 1500,1800, and 2100 hours GMT corresponding to 0530,
0830, 1130, 1430, 1730, 2030, 2330 and 0230 hours IST.

• At stations where principal observations are made, i.e. ‘morning observation’ and
‘afternoon observation’, observations are taken at 0830 and 1730 hours IST.

• At stations equipped with a standard raingauge (SRG) observations are made once
daily at the time of the morning observation at 0830 IST.

• At stations with a siphon type recorder rainfall the record is traced on a chart, which is
changed daily at 0830. Clock hourly rainfall amounts are being extracted from this
chart for entry to the database. If at any moment in time the rainfall intensity exceeds
12 mm/hr the rainfall is extracted for sampling intervals of 15 minutes until the rainfall
intensity drops below that threshold value. Maximum amounts in 15 minutes, are also
extracted. Due to chart calibration limitations the least time interval for extracting
rainfall data from autographic charts is 15 minutes.

Real time station

The stations equipped with automatic sensors from which data are recorded on
computer-compatible media and/or transmitted by telemetry to some central data
collection centre. The smallest frequency of data recording may be set initially as per
capability of the instrument say hourly and other frequency like daily, 10-daily, monthly
etc. may be aggregated from the recorded data.


In case of non-recording instrument, observations are recorded in field note books on

daily basis subsequently these are entered into required standard format (Annexure-
3.A). Instrument’s problems and faults along with missing data should also be recorded.

In case of recording instrument, date of observation along with readings visible in the
instrument and other collected information regarding instrument or its site should be
recorded in field note book. Any kind of maintenance activities like changing of battery,
cleaning of sensors etc. should also be noted down in field note books.


The following accuracy requirements for the relevant parameters are presented by
WMO for climatology and hydrology.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

TABLE 3.1 Accuracy in Measurement

Rainfall, total amount Tolerance Rainfall intensity Tolerance

Climatology Climatology
≤10 mm ±0.1 mm ≤25 mm/hr ±0.5 mm/hr
> 10 mm ±2% >25 mm/hr ±2%

Hydrology Hydrology
≤40 mm ±2 mm -- ±1 mm/hr

> 40 mm ±5%

The recorded data should be checked for accuracy. If some data are not within
permissible limit those should be checked further. Inconsistent and erroneous data
should be removed.


Based on world-wide experiences, WMO (1994) has presented a general guide for the
required density of precipitation stations. An absolute minimum density for different
physiographic units is given in TABLE 3.2.

TABLE 3.2 Minimum Density of Precipitation Station (WMO, 1994)

Minimum density (area in

Non-recording (ARG) Recording (ARG)

Hilly region 250 2500

Semi-hilly region 500 5000

Plains, high rainfall region 500 5000

Plains, low rainfall region 900 9000

Arid region 10000 100000

IS 4987: 1994, recommends the following for rain gauge network

• In plains, one raingauge up to 500 km2

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• In not too elevated regions with average elevation 1000 m above sea level, the
network density shall be one raingauge in 250 km2 to 400 km2.

• In areas predominantly hilly and where very heavy rainfall, the normal network, if
economically feasible, should be one raingauge in not more than 150 km2, the
denser network being preferable.

It is desirable to have at least 10 percent of the raingauge stations equipped with self
recording type of raingauges. The raingauges should be uniformly distributed.

Adequacy of Raingauge Stations:-

When the mean rainfall is calculated by simple arithmetical average, the optimum
number of raingauges is obtained by the following equation:
N = (Cv/P )2 (3.1)
N = optimum number of raingauge stations,
Cv = coefficient of variation of the rainfall values of the existing raingauge stations
P = desired degree of percentage error in the estimate of basin mean rainfall.


The data received at central location should be checked and validated for maintaining
accuracy. Thereafter, the data should be stored in hard copy in the relevant data files.
Further, the data should be stored in softcopy also in relevant format in Excel files or
other suitable software files used for data entry. The software files of stored data should
be securely backed up ideally onto an external back-up device and/or backed up
network server, so that there is no risk of data loss. All PCs should have up-to-date
anti-virus software.


3.13.1 Observation of Precipitation by RADAR

 The meteorology RADAR is a powerful instrument to measure areal extent, location

and movement of rainstorm.

 The amount of rainfall overlarge area can be determined through the radar with a
good degree of accuracy. The radar emits a regular succession of pulse of
electromagnetic radiation in a narrow beam so that when the raindrops intercept a
radar beam, its intensity can easily be known.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 It does not measure precipitation directly, instead it measures the energy returned
from a precipitation target. The energy returned is used to determine the reflectivity
of the target. The reflectivity is related to the rainfall intensity. Using this relationship,
rainfall intensity is estimated.

 Radar permits the observation of the location and movement of areas of

precipitation, and certain types of radar equipment can yield estimates of rainfall
rates over areas within range of the radar. Although radar has been used
experimentally for nearly 30 years to measure rainfall, operational implementation
has been slow.

FIGURE 3.11 Rainfall Measurement by RADAR

3.13.2 Observations of Rainfall by Satellite

Rainfall estimation from space is based on measuring the amount of electromagnetic

radiation that is reflected and emitted through cloud tops. Most of the radiation does not
penetrate deep into cloud regions containing particles with similar or greater size than
the radiation wavelength. Therefore, except for the longest wavelengths, most of the
radiation comes from the upper regions of precipitating clouds and can therefore only
indirectly be related to surface rainfall. Consequently there are many techniques using a
range of procedures.

 One of the popular methods of rainfall measurement by satellite is Active microwave

(rain) radar; Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (or TRMM) is a NASA (National

Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA) satellite that provides more information
both to test and to improve climate models.

 TRMM is particularly devoted to measuring precipitation in the tropics and subtropics

of the earth. Among the three primary instruments on TRMM, the most innovative is
the Precipitation Radar. The Precipitation Radar, built by the National Space
Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan, is the first space-borne instrument
designed to provide three-dimensional maps of storm structure.

 TRMM operated from 1997 - 2015 and carried the first on-orbit active/passive
instruments to study tropical rainfall.

 The TRMM satellite has a radar transmitting at a wavelength of 2.2 cm (active

microwave) and microwave radiometers (19 to 90 GHz).

 The resolutions of these instruments range from about 1 km for the visible and infra-
red radiometer, about 10 km for the microwave radiometers and 250 m for the radar.

 The radar has provided an improvement in the accuracy of instantaneous rain

estimates over those previously achieved from space.

 TRMM samples each area between 35 degrees north and south, at best, twice daily.
As shown in Figure 3.12, PR, TMI, VIRS are used for rainfall remote sensing.
Complex algorithms are involved to determine rainfall intensity, amount and extent
from each instrument.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.12 TRMM Satellite Instrumentation

FIGURE 3.13 Annual Rainfall by TRMM

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 An international satellite mission launched by NASA and JAXA (Japan Aerospace

Exploration Agency) on Feb. 27, 2014, that is setting new standards for precipitation
measurements worldwide using a network of satellites united by the GPM (Global
Precipitation Measurement) Core Observatory.

 Precipitation data from the GPM and TRMM missions is made available free to the
public in a variety of formats from several sources at NASA Goddard Space Flight
Center. “Get data” section of this web source outlines the different types of data
available, the levels of processing, the sources to download the data, and some
helpful tips for utilizing precipitation data.

 Through an advanced set of instruments, TRMM and GPM provide new information
on precipitation characteristics and how rain and snow interact within the Earth
system. GPM data products can be divided into two groups (real-time and
production) depending on how soon they are created after the satellite collects the

 For applications such as weather, flood, and crop forecasting that need precipitation
estimates as soon as possible, real-time data products are most appropriate.

 GPM real-time products are generally available within a few hours of observation.

 For all other applications, production data products are generally the best data sets
to use because additional or improved inputs are used to increase accuracy. These
other inputs are only made available several days, or in some cases, several
months, after the satellite observations are taken, and the production data sets are
computed after all data have arrived, making possible a more careful analysis.

3.13.3 Remote-sensing Measurements of Snow

Remote-sensing of snow can be accomplished using gamma rays, visible and near IR,
thermal IR and microwaves. An overview of the relative sensor band responses to
various snowpack properties shows that the microwave band has the greatest overall
potential followed by the visible and near-infra-red band. The gamma ray portion is
extremely limited by the fact that the sensing must be carried out with low altitude
aircraft, and to a lesser extent that it is really only sensitive to a finite snow-water
equivalent. Thermal infra-red is also limited in potential, but it can be used from space in
nighttime situations (WMO, 1999).

3.13.4 Satellite Remote-sensing of Snow cover

Remote-sensing data are currently being used operationally in snow cover and snow-
water equivalent assessments, and seasonal snow melt runoff forecasts. The potential

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

of satellites to provide usable information on snowpack dynamics is now widely

recognized, and today many schemes exist that employ satellite-derived snow
measurements for snow-runoff prediction.


Rainfall Information is available on Indian Meteorological Department Website. Real

time monitoring of rainfall and preparation of rainfall summary is being done by Indian
Meteorological Department. Based on the real time daily rainfall data, weekly/monthly
district wise, sub division wise and state wise rainfall distribution summaries are
prepared regularly by the Rainfall Monitoring Unit. Maps showing weekly and
cumulative rainfall figures in 36 meteorological subdivisions of the country are prepared.
The departure of rainfall from normal rainfall at station with detailed compilation of
rainfall statistics is also available Indian meteorological Department Website.

Rainfall data (since 2010) can be obtained from IMD website in
through Rainfall Information tab. Rainfall information available in IMD’s Customized
Rainfall Information System (CRIS) page is as follows:

• District wise/ State wise Rainfall maps (on daily/weekly/yearly basis )

• District wise/ State wise Rainfall Graphs (on daily/weekly/yearly basis )
• District wise/ State wise Rainfall Statistics (on daily/weekly/yearly basis )
• District wise/ State wise Rainfall Departures (on daily/weekly/yearly basis )
• District wise/ Basin wise Spatial Rainfall Analysis (on daily/weekly/yearly basis )
• District wise/ State wise Cumulative Rainfall Statistics yearly report.

Flood Meteorological Offices (FMOs) have been set up by IMD at Various locations.
During the flood season, FMO provide valuable meteorological support for issuing flood
warnings. IMD also provide all India weather forecast report, all India weather warning
report and all India weather interference report daily on its website. These reports
include weather forecasting and weather warnings for a week

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.14 Example of Rainfall Distribution Graph obtained from IMD Website

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.15 Example of Last 5 Year District Rainfall from IMD Website

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 3.16 Example of Cumulative Annual Rainfall Map obtained from IMD Website

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual


The rainfall data observed should be sent regularly on monthly basis to Hydrology
Section, Design & Engineering Division in the following formats enclosed as Annexure-
3.A to Annexure-3.B.




1. IS code – 4849: 1992 Rain Measures - Specification

2. IS code – 5225: 1992 Meteorology - Raingauge, Non-recording -Specification

3. IS code – 4986: 2002 Installation of Raingauge (non-recording type) and

Measurement of Rain

4. IS code – 8389: 2003 Installation and Use of Raingauges, Recording

5. IS code – 4987:1994 Recommendations for Establishing Network of Raingauge


6. IS code – 5542: 2003 Guide For Storm Analysis

7. IS code - 6806:1973 – Specification for Snowgauge

8. WMO No. 168 – 2008 “Guide to Hydrological Practices – Volume I Hydrology –

From Measurement to Hydrological Information”

9. WMO No. 168 – 1994 “Guide to Hydrological Practices – Data Acquisition and
Processing, Analysis, Forecasting and other Applications”

10. WMO No. 8 – 2008 “Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of


11. Hydrology Project, Govt. of India, “Design Manual Volume-3, Hydro-Meteorology”

12. Hydrology Project, Govt. of India, “How to Analyze Rainfall”

13. Central Water Commission- Jan 2017: “Handbook for Hydro-meteorological


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STATION : ------------ TIME :----------------- MONTH & YEAR :------
ALTITUDE : ---------m LATITUDE:----------- LONGITUDE:-----------
Date of Rainfall Date of Measurement Rainfall
1 2
2 3
3 4
4 5
5 6
6 7
7 8
Contd. Contd.
24 25
25 26
26 27
27 28
28 29
29 30
30 31
31 1

Signature of (Sup./JE/AE)
Signature of (AM/DM/Mgr.)

IMS/DED/F-09 Issued Approved By:

REV NO. 00 By: (HOD)
Date:24.07.2014 Date:24.07.2014
Eff (DDC)

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual



STATION: ------------- MONTH & YEAR : -------------------- ALTITUDE:------ m
LATITUDE:----------- LONGITUDE:-----------
9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Signature of
Signature of

IMS/DED/F-07 Issued By: Approved

REV NO. 00 (DDC) By:
Date:24.07.2014 Date:24.07.2014
Eff (HOD)

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual




Water level, or stage (m), is the elevation of the water surface of a stream, lake or
other water body relative to a datum. It may be used to compute discharge, to forecast
flood, to delineate flood hazard areas and to design structures in or near water bodies.
When Water level is correlated with stream discharge or with the storage volumes of
reservoirs and lakes, water levels become the basis for computation of discharge or
storage records.

Stream velocity (m/s) is velocity of water at particular point in the stream. It varies
across the cross-section of the river and is greatest in midstream near the surface and
is slowest along the stream bed and banks due to friction. Average value of stream
velocity is computed by measuring at sufficient number of points in a cross-section of
river for the purpose of computing stream discharge. The principal instruments for
measuring stream velocity are the deflection vane gauge, the current meter, the
electromagnetic velocity meter and the acoustic (ultrasonic or Doppler) velocity meters.

Stream discharge (m3/s) is a very important element, and frequently the ultimate goal
in stream gauging. Discharge cannot be measured directly, but must be computed from
other measured variables such as gauge height, stream depth, stream width, and
stream velocity. As discharge varies in time, daily mean values of discharge are usually
computed from instantaneous unit values of discharge, using computer methods.

Gauge-zero elevation (m) is an arbitrary level of water surface with respect to which
water level/stage is measured. The establishment of the gauge zero shall be chosen so
as to avoid negative readings of stage. To ensure that the gauge zero remains the
same over the duration of the station operation, care shall be taken to ensure that it is
fixed low enough, especially for sites where scour is severe. The zero of the gauge shall
be correlated with a national datum through a station benchmark. The gauge zero and
the other gauge divisions should be checked annually with respect to this benchmark.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual


Stage-sensing and measuring devices are the basic elements of the equipment for
measuring and recording stage. They should be stable. A vertical or inclined staff gauge
shall be located near the stage sensor, to act as the reference gauge. The water level
indicated by the stage sensor should follow the water level indicated by the reference

4.2.1 Non-Recording Gauges

One method of obtaining a record of stage is by the systematic observations of a non-

recording gauge. In the early days of stream gauging this was the means generally
used to obtain records of stage, and is still used at a few gauging stations, but today
water-level sensors and automatic water stage recorders are the predominant
instruments used at practically all gauging stations. Non-recording gauges are still in
general use as auxiliary and reference gauges at water-stage recorder.

Several types of non-recording gauges for measuring stage are used in hydrometric

The common gauges are of the following types:

(a) Graduated vertical staff gauge;

(b) Ramp or inclined gauge;

(c) Wire-weight gauge installed on a structure above the stream;

(d) Graduated rod, tape, wire or point gauge for measuring the distance to the water

(e) Maximum-stage gauge for obtaining the elevation of the flood crest by the
adherence of regranulated cork to a graduated staff held in a fixed position with
relation to the datum. Vertical and Inclined Staff Gauges

Vertical and inclined staff gauges shall meet the functional requirements described in IS
code-4080:1994, which may be briefly summarized as follows.

 The graduations of a staff gauge shall be clearly, accurately and permanently

marked directly on a smooth surface. The numerals shall be distinct and placed
so that an ambiguous reading is not likely.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 The gauges shall be durable and easy to maintain. The material shall have a low
coefficient of expansion, and shall be resistant to alternating wet and dry
conditions and to wear or fading of the markings.

 The gauges shall be placed near the bank, in an easily accessible position, so
that water level can be read from the shortest possible distance.

 The gauges shall be simple to install and use.

 The gauges shall be placed in a calm area, as close as possible to, and
preferably in the same cross-section as, the stage sensor, without however
affecting stage at this level. When the amplitude of variation of stage can exceed
the capacity of a staff gauge, other additional elements may be installed in the
same cross-sectional area, normal to the direction of flow.

FIGURE 4.1 Staff Gauge

4.2.2 Recording Gauges

Many different types of continuously recording stage gauges are in use. They may be
classified according to both mode of actuation and mode of recording. When variations
in stage are small, stage records may be established by direct readings of the reference
gauge by an observer. However, when stage varies rapidly, the station should
preferably be equipped with a sensor and recorder.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

The stage sensor converts a change in stage into a proportional quantity of shaft
rotation or electrical signal, which is then recorded. The stage sensor may be a
mechanical, pressure, electronic or acoustic device. The recorder associated with a
stage sensor may be a graphic (analog), digital, magnetic tape or electronic device. Float System

The typical float system consists of a float operating in a stilling well, a graduated steel
tape or wire, a counter weight, a pulley and a pointer. The stage fluctuations are sensed
by the float and converted into an angular moment of the pulley-bearing shaft. The
dimensions of the float and counterweight determine the sensor sensitivity and the
driving torque on the output shaft. The functional requirements of stilling wells are given
in IS code-9116:2002 and are summarized as follows:

— to provide, within the well, an accurate representation of the water level in the

— to damp out oscillations of the water surface;

— to accommodate the recording instrument and protect the float system.

FIGURE 4.2 Water Stage Recorder in a Gauge Well

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Pneumatic Pressure Sensor

• This type of stage-sensing device is frequently used where the installation of a

stilling well would be too expensive or impractical. The principle of the sensor
consists of discharging a small flow of compressed gas into a tube, the free end
(orifice) of which has been placed in the water and fixed at an elevation below the
level to be measured. The sensor at the opposite end of the tube detects the
pressure of the gas, which is proportional to the head of water above the orifice.

• Servomanometer and servo beam balance devices are some of the mechanisms
employed in which pressure is detected, and a strip chart recording or electrical
signal is obtained through a servometer.

• Pressure transducers of appropriate range and accuracy based on a piezoresistive

principle, quartz crystal or other type may also be used to produce an electrical
signal proportional to the water head.

• The functional requirements and conditions of installation of these devices are

described in IS 15118:2002 and manual provided by instrument supplier.

FIGURE 4.3 Pneumatic Pressure Sensor

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Diaphragm Pressure Sensor

• This is a differential pressure transducer which senses the difference between

hydrostatic and atmospheric pressures.

• The body of the sensor is fixed in the channel at an elevation below the lowest stage
to be measured.

• It is fitted with a diaphragm, one face of which is in contact with the water and the
other face is subjected to atmospheric pressure through a capillary tube which is
vented to the atmosphere above water level.

• The deformation of the diaphragm under hydrostatic pressure is converted into an

electrical signal which is proportional to the head of water above the sensor.

• The use of such sensors is generally limited to restricted measuring ranges because
of the difficulty in meeting the accuracy requirements over extended measuring
ranges. The installation requirements for these sensors are similar to those for
pneumatic sensors.

FIGURE 4.4 Diaphragm Pressure Sensor Downward-looking Ultrasonic Device

• This device is located above the water surface, away from the influence of the
banks. The time is measured for pulses of ultrasound to travel from the device to the
water surface and back.

• The speed of sound in air is assessed either from a measurement of air

temperature, or by direct measurement using a target placed at a fixed distance
between the device and the water surface.

• The manufacturer’s recommendations for minimum distances between the device

and the banks and water surface should be followed.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• In the presence of waves on the water surface, the device tends to determine the
elevation of the wave crests.

• The range of these devices is limited to about 2 m.

FIGURE 4.5 Downward Looking Ultrasonic Device Upward-looking Ultrasonic Device

• A transducer is located below the water surface away from the banks, and
connected to an electronic unit. The time is measured for pulses of ultrasound to
travel from the transducer to the water surface and back.

• The speed of sound in water is assessed either by direct measurement, using a

target placed at a fixed distance above the transducer, or from data derived from an
ultrasonic flow meter of which the level sensor is an integral part.

• The manufacturer’s recommendations for the minimum distances between the

transducer and the banks and water surface should be followed.

• In the presence of waves on the water surface, the device tends to determine the
elevation of the wave troughs. A common configuration consists of a vertical tube
extending above the water surface, with the transducer and target at the lower end. Radar Type Water Level Recorder

This is non-contact type water level recorder. This is ideally suited for making
measurements in rivers & reservoirs where the sensor can be located above the water
surface. . Therefore the radar measurement is unaffected by mudding, drifting materials,
weedage, sewage and brackish or saline water etc.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

The measuring principle, the so called pulse procedure, sends a short microwave
impulse to the water surface. Then the transmitter has a short time lag. Within this time
lag, it receives the reflected impulse from the water surface and transmits it to the
integrated evaluation system. The run time of the impulses corresponds directly to the
distance of the actual surface water level.

Using the above pulse-echo measurement technique, the radar has a range of about 0
to 70 m.

FIGURE 4.6 Radar Type Water Level Recorder Accuracy of Stage Measurements

For the measurement of stage, in certain installations an uncertainty of ± 10 mm may be

satisfactory; in others, an uncertainty of ± 3 mm or better may be required; however, in
no case should the uncertainty be greater than ± 10 mm, or ± 0.1 % of the range of the
measuring device, whichever is greater (IS 15119(part 1):2002),

4.2.3 Water Level Recorders Analog Recorders

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Analog recorders produce a continuous graphic record on a paper chart of the rise and
fall of the stream with respect to time, as measured by the stage sensor. Graphic
recorders may be mechanical, with a shaft rotation as input signal delivered directly by
the level sensor, or electronic (e.g. potentiometric recorders). Regardless of their type,
graphic recorders shall meet the requirements referred in IS 15119(part 1):2002. Digital Paper Tape Recorders

Digital paper tape recorders punch or inscribe coded instantaneous or discrete values
on paper tape at preselected time intervals. Magnetic Tape Recorders

Magnetic Tape recorders record coded values of a variable on a magnetic tape at

preselected time intervals. Coding may be incremental, i.e. only level variations
between two measurements are recorded over the time interval, or discrete values may
be recorded. In the latter case, the integer value is generally recorded in binary form.
These recorders are coupled to stage sensors via encoders, such as a rotational shaft
movement or an electronic encoder delivering electrical signals. Electronic Memory (solid state) Recorders

These recorders store coded values in an electronic memory. Like magnetic tape
recorders, they are coupled to stage sensors via digital coders suited to the signal
delivered. Stored values may be retrieved onsite or remotely consulted, using an
appropriate device.


The site selected for observation of stage should be determined by the purpose for
which the records are collected, the accessibility of the site, and the availability of an
observer if the gauge is non-recording. Gauges on lakes and reservoirs are normally
located near the outlet, but upstream from the zone where an increase in velocity
causes a drawdown in water level.

Gauges on large bodies of water should also be located so as to reduce the fetch of
strong winds, which may cause damage or misleading data. Hydraulic conditions are an
important factor in site selection on channels, particularly where water levels are used to
compute discharge records.

4.3.1 Preliminary Survey

Detailed examination of a large-scale map is required in the first instance. A low-altitude

aerial survey (using a plane or helicopter) may be made if the basin is large and not

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

readily accessible by road vehicles. This procedure gives a better view than ground
surveys. Aerial views can be used as a basis for selecting potential sites, which can
then be evaluated and studied more precisely by ground reconnaissance.

Ground reconnaissance will include a detailed visual examination of the site and enquiry
among competent services to determine whether hydraulic work projects exist which
could modify the stream bed regime. This enquiry should include an investigation of
past flow history, low water, high water, overflow areas, floods and bed instability.

4.3.2 Selection Criteria

A list of surveyed sites shall be established with their advantages and drawbacks as to
the establishment of a gauging station. Selection shall then be made according to the
following criteria. Measurement Range

The site selected shall be such that it is possible to measure the entire range and all
types of flow which may be encountered or which are required to be measured. The
entire range of measurement may be referred to one reference gauge, or certain ranges
of discharge may be referred to different gauges. Different methods of calibration may
be employed for separate parts of the range, the particular conditions relative to each of
the methods of calibration being specified in the relevant International Standard. Stability

The operation of a gauging station is based on the assumption of a relation between

stage and discharge. It is therefore desirable that this relation is stable at the selected
site. This condition is met if the control section or reach is stable and not subject to
variable backwater. Sites where weed growth is prevalent shall be avoided, if possible.
There shall be no vortices, dead water or other abnormalities in flow. Sites where
difficult ice conditions are prevalent shall be avoided, if possible. Sensitivity

The site shall be sensitive, such that a significant change in discharge, even for the
lowest discharges, shall be accompanied by a significant change in stage. Small errors
in stage readings during calibration at a non-sensitive station can result in large errors in
the discharges indicated by the stage-discharge relation. A comparison shall be made
between the change in discharge and the corresponding minimum change in stage to
ensure that the sensitivity of the station is sufficient for the purpose for which the
measurements are required.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Scale Readability

It is essential that the reference gauge is easily readable and accurate at all values of
discharge, because stage readings are the basis of discharge measurements. The
water surface shall be calm to ensure that readings shall correspond to the indication of
the stage sensor. The gauge and the sensor shall therefore be installed close to each
other in a low-velocity area. Accessibility

Ideally the station should be accessible, or made accessible, at all seasons regardless
of the discharge conditions. Silting

When the stream carries a high sediment load, silting of the gauge may occur,
especially in low-velocity protected areas. Access to any stilling well should therefore be
provided to permit quick and easy cleaning. Flood Protection

Site inspection shall be carried out under low-water and high-water conditions to study
currents and eddies. The sensor shall be placed out of reach of any floating debris to
avoid accidental damage, and the recorder should be set at an elevation to avoid being
flooded under high-water conditions. Public records shall be consulted, the vegetation
shall be observed and the population questioned to this end. Discharge Measurements

During preliminary surveys, the possibility of using one method of discharge

measurement for the whole discharge range shall be considered. Discharge
measurements need not be made at the exact location of the stage gauge because the
discharge is normally the same throughout a reach of channel in the general vicinity of
the gauge. Therefore it is preferable, but not essential, that the discharge measuring
section, or reach, is situated at the gauging station, but it is satisfactory to use a
measuring section at a different location from the gauge if the same discharge is
recorded at both places. Exploratory measurements should be carried out to check this

Sites selected for measurements should ideally have the following characteristics :

(a) The velocities at all points are parallel to one another and at right angles to the
cross-section of the stream;

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(b) The curves of distribution of velocity in the section are regular in the vertical and
horizontal planes;

(c) The velocities are greater than 0.150 m/s;

(d) The bed of the channel is regular and stable;

(e) The depth of flow is greater than 0.300 m;

(f) There is no aquatic growth;

(g) There is minimal formation of slush or frazil ice.

4.3.3 Possible Site Improvements

When the main requirements for a measuring site according to the specifications cannot
all be satisfied, improvements such as those described below can be contemplated at
the surveying stage.

a) The loss of water from the main channel by spillage can often be avoided by
constructing flood banks to confine the flow in a defined flood channel.

b) Minor irregularities in the bank or bed causing local eddies may be eliminated by
trimming the bank to a regular line and a stable slope, and by removing from the bed
any large stones or boulders.

c) Unstable banks should be protected wherever possible. Such protections shall

extend upstream and downstream of a measuring section for a distance equal to at
least one quartet of the bankfull width of the channel in each direction. In the case of
float gauging; the whole of the measuring reach shall be protected.

d) Instability of the bed may sometimes be corrected by introducing an artificial control

which may also serve to improve the stage-discharge relation (sensitivity) or to create
conditions in the measuring section for instruments to be effectively used.
Occasionally, it may be possible to eliminate variable backwater effects by
introducing an artificial control. Artificial controls are, however, not practicable in large
alluvial rivers.

e) Installation of cableways, walkways or footbridges as necessary.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

4.3.4 Criterion for the Ideal Gauge Site:

(a) The general course of the stream is straight for about 10 times the stream width,
upstream and downstream from the gauge site if the control is a river reach (channel
control). If the control is a section control, the downstream conditions must be such
that the control is not drowned. The water entering a section control should have low
velocity (see (f) below); If the stage record is to be used for computing streamflow,
the requirements for controls, rating curves, backwater and other streamflow
variables must be considered in selecting the site as well as the acquisition of stage

(b) The total flow is confined to one channel at all stages and no flow bypasses the site
as subsurface flow;

(c) The stream-bed is not subject to scour and fill and is relatively free of aquatic

(d) Banks are permanent, high enough to contain floods, and are free of brush;

(e) Unchanging natural controls are present in the form of a bedrock outcrop or other
stable riffle for low flow and a channel constriction for high flow or a waterfall or
cascade that is unsubmerged at all stages. If a natural control is not available, then
channel conditions should allow for the construction of an artificial control such as a
weir or flume;

(f) The site should be selected so the intakes or orifice are in a pool if possible, where
stream velocity is low and not subject to significant turbulence. If this is not possible
the intakes should be located in a slack-water zone where they are protected from
high velocity i.e. a pool is present upstream from the control at extremely low stages
to ensure a recording of stage at extremely low flow, and to avoid high velocities at
the streamward end of stage recorder intakes, transducers, or manometer orifice
during periods of high flow. The sensitivity of the control should be such that any
significant change in discharge should result in a measurable change in stage;

(g) The gauge stilling well and the instrument shelter may be located on a stream bank,
bridge, dam or other suitable structure provided the other site selection criteria are
met as closely as possible. The gauge structure should be located to avoid damage
during floods;

(h) If the gauge is located at or near a bridge, it is recommended that it be located on

the downstream side. If this is not possible then it should be located far enough
upstream to be out of the zone of drawdown caused by the bridge during medium
and high water;

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(i) The site should be selected where either a stilling well with intakes can be easily
installed or where an instrument shelter can be installed for housing a bubble gauge.
If a bubble gauge is to be used the site must provide suitable conditions to install the
necessary bubble tubing and orifice static tube. For bank installations the tubing is
usually placed underground between the gauge shelter and the stream. For bridge
installations the tubing may be attached to the bridge members and pier or piling.
The orifice static tube must be firmly anchored in the stream, preferably in a zone of
low velocity;

(j) The gauge intakes should be low enough to record the lowest expected stage. In cold
climates they should be below the frost line and protected from freezing if possible;

(k) The distance between the stream and the stilling well and/or instrument shelter
should be minimized;

(l) The gauge site is far enough upstream from the confluence with another stream or
from tidal effect to avoid any variable influence the other stream or the tide may have
on the stage at the gauge site;

(m) A satisfactory reach for measuring discharge at all stages is available within
reasonable proximity of the gauge site. It is not necessary for low and high flows to
be measured at the same stream cross-section;

(n) The site is readily accessible for ease in installation and operation of the gauging

(o) Within reach of a suitable telemetry system;

(p) Good conditions for discharge measurements at all stages;

(q) Instruments, shelter, and housing should be above all flood levels i.e above the 200
year flood level (WMO No. 1044 – 2010) or as per site condition. Sensors should be
capable to measure a full range of floods and drought.

(r) The site should have a suitable location for one or more outside auxiliary gauges.
These could be staff gauges, chain gauge, wire-weight gauge or tape-down
reference point. The auxiliary gauges should be easily accessible and located in a
position so that accurate gauge readings can be made easily. They should be in the
same pool as the gauge intakes and should provide readings that are indicative of
the readings obtained through the intakes;

(s) If the gauge site is for the purpose of measuring stage in a lake or reservoir and it is
near the outlet structure, the gauge intakes should be located upstream of the zone
of drawdown of the outlet structure;

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(t) Conditions at the site should be such that an accurate datum can be maintained.
Appropriate reference marks and reference points should be located both on and off
the gauging structure to maintain accurate and timely level surveys of the gauge.


4.4.1 Establishment of Gauge Datum

To avoid negative readings, the gauge should be set so that a reading of zero is below
the lowest anticipated stage. The gauge datum should be checked annually by levelling
from local benchmarks.

It is important to maintain the same gauge datum throughout the period of record. If
feasible, the local gauge datum should be tied to a national or regional datum. The
precise locations of the benchmarks should be carefully documented.

4.4.2 Recording Gauges

• All auxiliary gauges and the reference gauge should be read before the gauge
height record is retrieved from the recorder.

• The reference gauge reading should be compared to the recorder reading at the
time of the reference gauge reading to determine if any discrepancy exists. If a
discrepancy is found then the cause of that discrepancy should be determined and
corrected if possible.

• The graphical, digital, electronic, or telemetering device recorder is set by reference

to an auxiliary tape-float gauge or to a staff gauge located inside the stilling well.

• In addition, a staff, ramp or wire-weight gauge set to the same datum is necessary to
compare the water surface elevation in the stilling well with that of the river.

• For gauges with gas-purge systems and no stilling well, the staff, ramp or wire-
weight gauge in the river should serve as the reference gauge. Small differences
usually will occur because of velocity past the ends of the intake pipes. Large
differences indicate that the intake pipes may be obstructed.

4.4.3 Record Retrieval

• The gauge record should be retrieved from the recorder(s) after a given time and the
gauge readings should be determined and recorded.

• Paper charts and digital paper tapes are removed from the recorders and inspected
for malfunctions. Electronically recorded data are retrieved from Electronic Data

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Loggers and/or Data Collection Platforms by removing the data card and
downloading the data from the card to a portable computer.

• In some cases it may be possible to make a direct download of the data into a
portable computer.

• The electronically recorded data should be inspected for malfunctions and unusual
events such as floods through the use of data files and/or graphics on the portable

• Data may also be retrieved by transmission via telephone, radio or one of the other
telemetry methods. Some systems may be programmed to provide an automatic
alert at critical stages such as flood stage or rate-of-change of stage.

• All data retrieved by way of charts, tapes, electronic data cards and electronic
downloads are considered original stage data and should be protected against loss
or damage.

• In some cases even data that are transmitted via Data Collection Platform (DCP)
and satellite, or other telemetry method, are considered original and must be

• Original data for automated data-collection sites are defined as unaltered data
acquired from the primary sensor (and back-up sensor, as needed) and converted to
engineering units and a standard format.


River discharge, which is expressed as volume per unit time, is the rate at which water
flows through a cross-section. Discharge at a given time can be measured by several
different methods, and the choice of methods depends on the conditions encountered at
a particular site. Normally, the discharge shall be related to a corresponding water stage
at a gauging station

4.5.1 Discharge-Measuring Section or Reach (Gauging Section)

The establishment of the stage-discharge relation at a gauging station is carried out by

direct measurement of discharge using the methods described in the (IS 15119(part

In a permanent gauging station, the measurement section should be clearly identified

and suitably equipped to provide satisfactory performance. Regardless of the measuring
method, the discharge through the discharge-measuring section or reach shall be the

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

same as the discharge normal to the reference-stage gauge, over the entire range of
discharge rates.

At a gauging station, different measuring sections or different methods may be used to

cover the discharge range. The various methods which can be used for calibrating a
gauging station are:

— the velocity-area method using a current-meter (IS 1192:2013), the moving boat
method or floats;

— the dilution using a tracer method (IS 15898(Part 1 to 4):2012)

— the ultrasonic method and using a temporary installation in a self-calibrating mode

(IS 16223 :2014)

4.5.2 Discharge Measurement by the Velocity-Area Method

The principle of the method is to measure the mean velocity and the area of cross-
section of flow, the product of which is the discharge. The physical and hydraulic
characteristics of the discharge measuring section shall meet the requirements of IS
1192:2013 for the method to be implemented. Where the site does not offer the main
requirements for a gauging according to the specifications, conditions shall be improved
as described below.

a) Minor irregularities in the bank or bed causing local eddies shall be eliminated by
trimming the bank to a regular line and a stable slope, and by removing from the bed
any large stones or boulders.

b) Trees obstructing the clear view of the measuring section or measuring reach shall
be trimmed or removed. The field of view of a measuring section shall extend
sufficiently upstream to enable floating debris, which might damage a measuring
instrument, to be seen in sufficient time to permit the removal of the instrument from
the stream.

c) Suitable access to the site shall be constructed where possible, to provide safe
passage at all stages of flow and in all weather for personnel and for any vehicles
used for the conveyance of instruments and equipment.

4.5.3 Measurement of Cross-section

The accuracy of a discharge measurement depends on the number of verticals at which

observations of depth and velocity are obtained. Observation verticals should be located
to best define the variation in elevation of the stream bed and the horizontal variation in

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• In general, the interval between any two verticals should not be greater than 1/20 of
the total width and the discharge of any segment should not be more than 10 per
cent of the total discharge.

• Channel width and the distance between verticals should be obtained by measuring
from a fixed reference point (usually an initial point on the bank), which should be in
the same plane as the cross-section.

• Normally, the distance between verticals is determined from graduated tape or

beaded wire temporarily stretched across the stream or from semi-permanent
marks, for example, painted on a bridge handrail or a suspension cable.

• For large rivers, telemetry systems or triangulation practices can be used for
measuring widths.

• Depth may be read directly on a graduated rod set on the stream bed if
measurement is by wading.

• In non-wadable rivers, Sounding rods are used to measure depth up to 6 m and

sounding line are used to measure depth greater than 6 m.

• If the drum-wire-weight system is used for measurement, the current meter and
weight are lowered until the bottom of the weight just touches the water surface, and
the depth dial reading is set at zero. The weight is then lowered until it rests on the
stream bed, and the depth is read on the dial.

• Alternatively an echo sounder which provides a continuous bed profile quickly may
be preferred for the river with sufficient depth and high velocity. Echo sounding is a
type of SONAR used to determine the depth of water by transmitting sound pulses
into water. The time interval between emission and return of a pulse is recorded,
which is used to determine the depth of water (see Figure 4.7).

meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 4.7 Cross section Survey Using Echo sounder

4.5.4 Measurement of Velocity

elocity Current Meters

Velocity of flow at a point is usually measured by counting revolutions of a current meter

rotor during a short-time period
eriod measured with a stopw

Two types of current meter rotors are in general use: the cup type with a vertical shaft
and the propeller type with a horizontal shaft. Both types use a make
and-break contact
to generate an electric pulse for indicating the revolutions of the roto
r. Optical, non-
contact type counters are also in use with cup
cup-type meters.

Current meters are calibrated to cover the range in velocity of flow to be measured.
Detailed calibration procedures are described in IS 13371:2014.. Current meters may be
d individually or a group rating may be used. Individually calibrated meters
should be recalibrated after three years or 300 hours of use or if their performance is

meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 4.8 Cup Type Current Meter

FIGURE 4.9 Horizontal A

Axis or Propeller-type Current Meters
eters Measurement of Velocity

elocity Using the Current Meter

Velocity is observed at one or more points in each vertical by co

unting revolutions of the
rotor during a period of not less than 30 seconds. Where the velocity is subject to large
periodic pulsations the exposure time should be increased accordingly.

For shallow channels, the current meter should be held in the desire
desiredd position by means
of a wading rod.
Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

For channels too deep or swift to wade, it should be positioned by suspending it from a
wire or rod from a bridge, cableway or boat.

When a boat is used, the meter should be held so that it is not affected by disturbances
to the natural flow caused by the boat.

After the meter has been placed at the selected point in the vertical, it should be allowed
to become aligned with the direction of flow before readings are started. If oblique flow
is unavoidable, the angle of the direction of the flow normal to the cross-section should
be measured and the measured velocity should be corrected. If the measured angle to
the normal is γ then:

Vnormal = Vmeasuredcosγ (4.1)

The meter on cable suspension will automatically point in the direction of the current
owing to the tail vanes built into the meter. In some cases, such as using an oblique
bridge as the measuring section, the horizontal distances should be corrected as:

dnormal = dmeasuredcosγ (4.2)

The current meter should be removed from the water at intervals for examination. For
measuring very low velocities, special current meters may be used if they have been
tested in this range of velocities for repeatability and accuracy.

The horizontal axis of the current meter should not be situated at a distance less than
one and one-half times the rotor height from the water surface, nor should it be at a
distance less than three times the rotor height from the bottom of the channel.
Furthermore, no part of the meter should break the surface of the water.

4.5.5 Determination of Mean Velocity in a Vertical

The mean velocity of the water in each vertical can be determined by one of the
following methods:

(a) Velocity distribution method;

(b) Reduced point methods;

(c) Integration method.

Selection of the appropriate method depends on the time available, the width and depth
of the water, the bed conditions, the rate of change of stage, the velocity of the water,
the existence of ice cover and the required accuracy.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Velocity Distribution Method

 The measurement of the mean velocity by this method is obtained from velocity
observations made at a number of points along each vertical between the surface of
the water and the bed of the channel.

 The velocity observations at each position should be plotted in graphical form and
the mean velocity should be determined by dividing the area of this plot by the

 In developing the graph it may be necessary to estimate the velocities near the
stream bed by assuming that the velocity for some distance up from the bed of the
channel is proportional to the logarithm of the distance x from that boundary.

 If the observed velocities at points approaching the bed are plotted against log x,
then the best-fitting straight line through these points can be extended to the bed
and the velocities close to the bed read from this graph.

 The velocity distribution method may not be suitable for discharge measurements
made during significant variations of stage because the apparent gain in precision
may be more than offset by errors resulting from the longer period required to make
the measurement.

 The velocity distribution method is valuable in determining to coefficients for

application to the results obtained by other methods, but it is not generally adapted
to routine discharge measurements because of the extra time to compute the mean
velocity. Reduced Point Methods (IS 1192:2013)

(a) One-point method – Velocity observations should be made at each vertical by

placing the current meter at 0.6 of the depth below the surface. The value observed
should be taken as the mean velocity in the vertical. Where measurements are
made under ice cover, this method is applicable with a correction factor of 0.92 for
depths shallower than 1 m. Under ice conditions, the current meter may be placed at
0.5 of the depth. A correction factor of 0.88 is then applied to this result;

(b) Two-point method – Velocity observations should be made at each vertical by

placing the current meter at 0.2 and 0.8 of the depth below the surface. The average
of the two values should be taken as the mean velocity in the vertical;

(c) Three-point method – Velocity observations are made by placing the current meter
at each vertical at 0.2, 0.6 and 0.8 of the depth below the surface. The average of
the three values may be taken as the mean velocity in the vertical. Alternatively, the

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

0.6 measurement may be weighted and the mean velocity may be obtained from the

V = 0.25 (V0.2 + 2V0.6 + V0.8) (4.3)

(d) Five-point method – It consists of velocity measurements on each vertical at 0.2, 0.6
and 0.8 of the depth below the surface and as near as possible to the surface and
the bottom. The mean velocity may be determined from a graphical plot of the
velocity profile as with the velocity distribution method or from the equation:

V = 0.1 (Vsurface + 3V0.2 + 3V0.6+ 2V0.8+ Vbed) (4.4)

(e) Six-point method – Velocity observations are made by placing the current meter at
0.2, 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 of the depth below the surface and as near as possible to the
surface and the bottom. The velocity observations are plotted in graphical form and
the mean velocity is determined as with the velocity distribution method or from the

V= 0.1 (Vsurface+ 2V0.8+ Vsurfacebed + 2V0.2 + 2V0.4 + 2V0.6 ) (4.5)

(f) Two-tenths method – In this method, the velocity is observed at 0.2 of the depth
below the surface. A coefficient of about 0.88 is applied to the observed velocity to
obtain the mean in the vertical;

(g) Surface velocity method – In this method, velocity observations are made as near as
possible to the surface. A surface coefficient of 0.85 or 0.86 is used to compute the
mean velocity in the vertical. The two-point method is used where the velocity
distribution is normal and depth is greater than about 60 cm. The one-point method
is used for shallower depths. The three-point method should be used for
measurements under ice or in stream channels overgrown by aquatic vegetation.
The five-point method is used where the vertical distribution of velocity is very
irregular. The six point method may be used in difficult conditions, where, for
instance, there is aquatic growth, or there is a covering ice. Also it can be used
where the vertical distribution of velocity is very irregular. The two-tenths method is
principally used when it is not possible to position the meter at the 0.8 or 0.6 of the
depth. The surface velocity method may be used for measuring flows of such high
velocity that is not possible to obtain depth soundings.

In this case a general knowledge of the cross-section at the site or a cross-section

measured as soon as possible can be used to obtain the depths. The accuracy of a
particular method should be determined, if possible, by observing the velocity at 6 to 10
points in each vertical for the first few discharge measurements made at a new site.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Integration Method

 In this method, the current meter is lowered and raised through the entire depth at
each vertical at a uniform rate.

 The speed at which the meter is lowered or raised should not be more than 5
percent of the mean velocity of flow in the cross-section and it should be between
0.04 and 0.10 ms–1.

 The average number of revolutions per second is determined. Two complete cycles
are made in each vertical and, if the results differ by more than 10 per cent, the
measurement is repeated.

 This method is seldom used in water having a depth of less than 3 m and velocities
of less than 1 ms–1.

 The integration method should not be used with a vertical axis current meter
because the vertical movement of the meter affects the motion of the rotor. Choice of the method

The choice of the method of measurement is governed by dimensions of the channel,

namely, the width and depth of the cross-section, distribution of velocities along the
vertical, steadiness of flow, time available for the measurement, condition of channel
and accuracy needed.

Velocity distribution method, two-point method, one-point method, 0.6 depth method
and integration method can be used when velocities are moderate and it is possible to
lower the current meter to the desired depth. The three-point method may be used when
there is an ice cover.

4.5.6 Computations of Discharge Arithmetical Methods

(a) Mean-section method – The cross-section is regarded as being made up of a number

of segments bounded by two adjacent verticals. If V1 is the mean velocity at the first
vertical and v2 the mean velocity at the second vertical and if d1 and d2 are the total
depths measured at verticals 1 and 2, and bw is the horizontal distance between
verticals, then the discharge q of the segment is:

q = ((V1+V2)/2)*((d1+d2)/2)*bw (4.6)

The total discharge is obtained by adding the discharge from each segment;

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(b) Mid-section method – The discharge in each segment is computed by multiplying vd

in each vertical by a width bw, which is the sum of half the distances to adjacent
verticals. The value of d in the two half-widths next to the banks can be estimated.
The total discharge Q is computed as:

1 3
2 2 2

FIGURE 4.10 Area Velocity Methods for Discharge Computation Graphical Methods

(a) Depth-velocity integration method – The first step consists in drawing for each
vertical, the depth velocity curve, the area of which represents the product of the
mean velocity and the total depth. The value of this product at each vertical is then
plotted versus lateral distance and a curve is drawn through the points. The area
defined by this curve is the discharge in the cross-section;

(b) Velocity-contour method – Based on the velocity distribution curves of the verticals,
a velocity distribution diagram for the cross-section is prepared showing curves of
equal velocity. Starting with the maximum, areas enclosed by the equal velocity
curves and the water surface should be measured and then plotted in another
diagram, with the ordinate indicating the velocity and the abscissa indicating the

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

area. The area enclosed by the velocity area curve represents the discharge of the

FIGURE 4.11 Velocity Contour Method

4.5.7 Measurement of Discharge by the Float Method (IS 1192:2013)

This method should be used in the following instances: it is impossible to use a current
meter because of unsuitable velocities or depths, or where there is the presence of a
large amount of material in suspension, or when a discharge measurement must be
made in a very short time. Selection of Sections

Three cross-sections should be selected along a reach of straight channel. The cross-
sections should be spaced far enough apart for the time that the float takes to pass from
one cross-section to the next to be measured accurately. A travel time of 20 seconds is
recommended, but a shorter time may have to be used on small rivers with high
velocities where it is often impossible to select an adequate length of straight channel.

meteorological Observation Manual Floats

Types of float - The velocity of water in each segment can be determined by:

a) surface floats,
b) double floats, and
c) other types of floats.

face floats or rod floats may be used conforming to IS 3911:1994 & IS 4858:1968.

Surface Floats(( IS 3911:1994) -A

A surface float has a depth of immersion of less than
one quarter the depth of the water. Surface Floats should not be used when they are
likely to be affected by wind.

Double floats - These may be used for measurement of velocities in deep rivers. The
surface body may be positioned at 0.6 of the depth below the surface, or at other
depths to obtain direct velocity measurements at these de

Velocity Rods (IS 4858:1968) - A rod float has a depth of immersion exceeding one
quarter the depth of the water. Rod floats must not touch the channel bed. Float-rod
Float or
rods may be used for measurement of velocities in the case of artificial
artifici or other
regular channels where the cross
section is uniform, the bed is free from weeds, and
the depth of the water is constant.

Subsurface Floats – These may be used for measurement of velocities in very deep
rivers. The length of the sub--surface float,
oat, sometimes called the 'multiple floats', which
consists of separate elements suitably attached together to permit flexibility and
supported by a surface float, should be approximately equal to the water depth, but
shall in no case touch the bottom.

oating trees or ice cakes may serve as natural floats during periods when it is unsafe
to be on the river.

FIGURE 4.12 Surface Floats

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Measuring Procedure

 Float observations must be uniformly distributed over the width of the stream.

 The float should be released far enough above the upper cross-section to attain a
constant velocity before reaching the first cross-section.

 The time at which the float crosses each of the three cross-sections should be noted
with a stopwatch. This procedure should be repeated with the floats at several
locations across the stream.

 The width of the channel should be divided into segments of equal width or of
approximately equal discharge.

 The number of segments should be not less than three, but where possible a
minimum of five should be used.

 Distances of the float from the bank as it passes each cross-section may be
determined by suitable optical means, for example, a theodolite.

 The depth of flow at points in the cross-section may be determined by surveying

methods. Computation of Velocity

 The velocity of the float is equal to the distance between cross-sections divided by
the time of travel.

 At least five values of the float velocity should be taken at each segment and the
mean of these values should be multiplied by a coefficient to obtain the mean water
velocity for each segment.

 This coefficient is based on the shape of the vertical velocity profile and the relative
depth of immersion of the float.

 The coefficient to be applied to the measured velocity should be determined, if

possible, for each site by an analysis of discharge measurements that have been
made by current meter.

 When such measurements are not available, an adjustment factor, F, from Table 4.1
may be used for rough estimation.

 Alternatively the float velocity may be plotted as a function of the corresponding

distance from the bank, and the mean surface velocity across the river should be
determined from this plot.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 The mean velocity of flow in the cross-section is equal to the mean surface velocity
multiplied by a coefficient, K, the value of which is deduced, if possible, from
preceding measurements made with a current meter for smaller discharges.

TABLE 4.1 Float velocity adjustment factor F as a function of R, the ratio of the
immersed depth of float to depth of water

0.10 or less 0.86
0.25 0.88
0.50 0.90
0.75 0.94
0.95 0.98 Computation of Discharge

Discharge in each segment is computed by multiplying the average area of the cross-
section of the segment by the mean velocity of flow in the segment. The total discharge
is the sum of these discharges.

4.5.8 Area-Slope Method

 A measuring reach is chosen for which the mean area of the stream or river cross-
section is determined and the surface slope of the moving water in that reach is

 In the event of infeasibility of area velocity method due to either rapid rise and fall of
stage or lack of equipment, the slope area method is adopted for rough estimation of
the discharge.

 The requirements of the site are mostly similar to those for area velocity method.
The cross-sectional area is measured adopting the procedure as in case of area
velocity method.

 The velocity formula used is that of Manning's, the slope entering the formula being
the energy slope which allows for slight non-uniformity of flow.

 The roughness coefficient value to be used is related to bed material size and
condition of the channel. These recommendations are given in IS 2912:1999.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 The slope-area method can be used with reasonable accuracy in open channels
having stable boundaries, bed and sides (e.g. rock or very cohesive clay), in lined
channels and in channels with relatively coarse material.

 This method may also be used in alluvial channels, including channels with
overbank now or non-uniform channel cross-sections, but in these cases the method
is subject to large uncertainties owing to the selection of the rugosity coefficient
(such as Manning's coefficient n or Chezy’s coefficient C).

Generally the method may be used to determine discharge:-

a) At the time of determining gauge heights from a series of gauges;

b) For a peak now that left marks on a series of gauges or where peak stages were
recorded by a series of gauges;

c) For a peak now that left high-water marks along the stream banks.

This method is not suitable for use in very large channels, channels with very flat
surface slopes and high sediment load or channels having significant curvature.

The Manning`s and Chezy equation may be used for discharge calculation:-

Q= (A rh0.67 Sf0.5 )/n (4.8)


A is cross-section area, in square metres,

rh is hydraulic radius, in metres,

Sf is friction slope,

and n is channel rugosity.

The Chezy equation is:

Q = CA rh0.50 Sf 0.50 (4.9)

where C is the Chezy form of rugosity.

rh is hydraulic radius, in metres,

Sf is friction slope,

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

4.5.9 Discharge Measurement by the Dilution Method (IS 15898-1 to 4:2012)

 This method consists of injecting a tracer solution of known concentration into the
stream and sampling the tracer concentration at a point further downstream, where
turbulence has mixed the tracer uniformly throughout the cross-section.

 The stream discharge is computed from a comparison between the concentrations

of the injected solution and of the samples taken downstream.

 The method relies on there being good mixing of the water and tracer throughout the
entire cross-section.

 Adequate length of channel shall be used between the injection and sampling points.

 The method is recommended for sites with excessive turbulence flows.

 The two principal tracer methods used for discharge measurements are the
constant-rate-injection method and the sudden injection method.

 The dilution method is a fully acceptable method for discharge measurement at sites
where the conditions for this method are good.

FIGURE 4.13 Dilution Method General Requirements

A solution of a stable tracer is injected into the stream at either a constant rate or all at
once. Computation of the stream discharge requires knowledge of the following factors:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(a) The rate of injection for the constant-rate-injection method or the total amount
injected for the sudden-injection method;

(b) The concentration of the tracer in the injected solution;

(c) The calibrated relationship between tracer concentration and the recorded property
(for example, conductivity, colour and radioactivity) at the measuring site after it has
been well mixed laterally.

4.5.10 Discharge Measurement by the Ultrasonic Method

The Transit-time Differential Method -The principle of the ultrasonic (acoustic)

method is to measure the velocity of flow at a certain depth in the channel by
transmitting acoustic pulses in both directions through the water from transducers
located in the bank on each side of the river.

The transducers may be designed to transmit and receive pulses. They are staggered
so that the angle between the acoustic path and the direction of flow is usually between
30° and 60°. The difference between the time of travel of the pulses crossing the river in
an upstream direction and those travelling downstream is directly related to the average
velocity of the water at the depth of the transducers. (Refer section 4.11 for detail)

Doppler Effect Method -This is used to determine water velocity by sending a

sound pulse into the water and measuring the change in frequency of that sound
pulse reflected back to the ADCP(Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers) by
sediment or other particulates being transported in the water. (Refer section 4.11
for detail)


4.6.1 Frequency of Stage Measurement

• The frequency of recording of water level is determined by the hydrological regime of

the water body and by the purposes for collecting the data.

• At continuous-record gauging stations hourly recordings are normally sufficient for

most rivers. For measurement in small or flashy streams and urban catchments,
stage has to be recorded more frequently in order to obtain a sufficiently accurate

• In general, it is recommended to record stage as frequently as possible within the

limitations given by the available battery capacity and data memory. Installation of
water level recorders is essential for streams where the level is subject to abrupt

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• The non-recording gauge is frequently used as a part of flood forecasting systems,

where a local observer is available to report on river stage.

• For purposes such as flood forecasting or flood management, telemetering systems

may be employed to transmit data whenever the stage changes by a predetermined

• For some purposes, the recording of only the maximum stages during floods is
sufficient and maximum-stage gauges are used.

• A daily measurement of stage is usually sufficient in lakes and reservoirs for the
purpose of computing changes in storage.

• The recording time interval for a particular station is selected on the basis of the
rapidity with which the stage can change and its significance to change in discharge.

• Flashy streams require shorter time intervals and large streams allow longer time

• Output from pressure transducers, shaft encoders or other devices that provide
electronic outputs representing the stage can also be recorded on electronic data
loggers or with appropriate interfaces the data can be telemetered from remote

TABLE 4.2 Recommended observation frequency for water level measurement


Hourly Monsoon season
Staff gauge only 1-3 per day Non-monsoon times of year

Depends on scale of chart

AWLR (Autographic Hourly – more frequent readings
water level recorder) could readily be extracted
from some charts

DWLR(Digital water level Depends on the size of

Hourly/15 minute
recorder) basin and purpose of data

4.6.2 Frequency of Discharge Measurements

Factors to be considered in scheduling the number and distribution of discharge

measurements within the year include:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

(a) Stability of stage-discharge relationship;

(b) Seasonal discharge characteristics and variability; and

(c) Accessibility of the gauge in various seasons.

Many discharge measurements are necessary at a new station to define the stage-
discharge relationship throughout the entire range of the stage.

If it is possible, discharge should be measured hourly/daily basis during wet season. If it

is not possible, periodic measurements are then necessary to define changes in the
stage-discharge relationship.

Adequate definition of discharge during flood and under ice conditions is of prime
importance. It is essential that the measurement programme provides for non-routine
measurement of discharge at these times.

Where it is important to record streamflow continuously throughout the year, discharge

measurements should generally be made more frequently when the stream is under ice

During freeze-up and break-up periods, measurements should be obtained as often as

possible because of the extreme variability of flow.

In midwinter, the frequency of the measurements will depend on climate, accessibility,

size of stream, winter runoff characteristics, and the required accuracy.

In very cold climates, where discharge follows a smooth recession curve, fewer
measurements are required than for a stream in a climate of alternate freezing and


In case of non-recording gauge, observations are recorded in field note books on daily
basis subsequently these are entered into required standard format (Annexure-4.A &
4.B). Gauge’s problems and faults along with missing data should also be recorded. If
velocity is being measured by current meter/float, the same is entered into field note

In case of recording Gauge, date of observation along with readings visible in the
recorder and other collected information regarding recorder or its site should be
recorded in field note book. Any kind of maintenance activities like changing of battery,
cleaning of sensors/other components, servicing/replacement of equipments etc. should
also be noted down in field note books.

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4.8.1 General

The history of stage data shall be traced either by periodic observations of a reference
gauge for streams having small variations in stage, or by continuous stage recording at
intervals as necessary to define the hydrograph adequately.

The availability of a control section or reach establishing a stable relation between stage
and discharge can convert stage records into discharge records. However, a stage-
discharge relation cannot always be established for alluvial rivers. In this case, the
stage-discharge relation is only applicable for the interval of time for which it has been
verified by discharge measurements.

4.8.2 Preparatory Work

After the preliminary survey, a topographical survey shall be made when selecting a
permanent site for a suitable measuring section. This shall include a plan of the site
indicating the width of the water surface at a specified stage, the edges of the natural
banks of the channel(s), the line of any definite discontinuity of the slope of these banks
and the toe and crest of any artificial flood bank. At sites where a permanent measuring
section is warranted, the following preparatory work shall be carried out.

a) All obstructions in the channel or floodway shall be indicated.

b) A longitudinal section of the channel shall be drawn from a point downstream of a

control, where this exists, to the upstream limit of the reach showing the level of the
deepest part of the bed and water surface gradients at low and high stages.

c) The reach containing the measuring section shall be checked to ensure that it
contains no discontinuities that may affect the measurement results. At least five
cross-sections shall be surveyed in the measuring reach: two cross-sections
upstream from the measuring section and two downstream, at distances upstream
and downstream of not less than one bankfull width of the channel.

d) The control shall be defined by one or more cross-sections or by a close grid of levels
over the area.

e) The detailed survey of the reach shall be extended to an elevation well above the
highest anticipated flood level.

f) The spacing of levels or soundings should be close enough to reveal any abrupt
change in the contour of the channel.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

g) The bed of the reach shall be examined for the presence of rocks or boulders,
particularly in the vicinity of the measuring section.

h) All key points at the site shall be permanently marked on the ground by markers sunk
to such a depth below the surface as will secure them against movement. Cross-
section markers should be on the line of the cross-section to facilitate the repetition of
levels or soundings when the section is checked.

i) Where the main requirements necessary for a suitable gauging site, as specified, are
not present, conditions may be improved as described in 4.3.3.

4.8.3 Stage Measurement and Recording for Stage-Discharge Relation

A recorder shall be installed so as to produce a continuous record of stage at intervals

as necessary to define the hydrograph adequately. It may be desirable to establish
gauges at both banks particularly when there is any risk of differential level.

A station benchmark shall be established to conform to standard practice.

If a section control regulates the stage at low and/or medium discharges at the gauging
station, the gauge shall be situated upstream from the control and sufficiently remote
from it to avoid any distortion of flow which might occur in that vicinity. It shall be close
enough to ensure that a variable stage-discharge relation will not be introduced through
the effect of wind or weed growth in the channel.

Higher discharges are most often controlled by the general characteristics of the
channel for a considerable distance downstream.

The reference gauge and water-level recorder shall be located as close as possible to
the measuring reach unless floats are used to measure the velocities, in which case the
reference gauge and water-level recorder shall be located near the midpoint of the
measuring reach.

The reference gauge shall comply with IS code-4080:1994.

4.8.4 Discharge Measurement for Stage-Discharge Relation

The stage-discharge relation shall be established by measuring the discharges

corresponding to respective stage values.

• When the station is to be calibrated using current meters to measure velocities,

exploratory measurements of velocities shall be made in the proposed measuring
section and in the cross-sections immediately upstream and downstream.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• When possible, the method of velocity distribution in clause & IS 1192:2013
shall be used for these measurements to determine the feasibility of using reduced-
point methods.

• For stations calibrated with current-meters, a standard profile on the measuring

cross-section shall be drawn, indicating the position of the cross-section markers.
On this drawing, the positions selected for the measuring verticals may be recorded.

• The bed levels of the cross-section shall be frequently checked and the profile
revised, if necessary.

• The velocity measurements described above shall be repeated at more than one
stage to ensure that any abnormality of flow is detected.

• If the site allows it, the discharge-measuring section may be equipped with a device
for improving the measuring equipment to be used.

• Bridges and current-meter wading rods, cableways and current meter suspension
equipment shall conform to IS 15117:2002.

• When floats are to be used for velocity measurements, trial runs of floats shall be
closely spaced across the width of the channel. For stations calibrated with floats, a
standard plan shall be prepared on which the lines of the selected floats, runs and
the release points for floats shall be indicated. A copy of this plan shall be kept in the
instrument house at all times.

• When dilution techniques are to be used to calibrate the station, trial measurements
should be made to check the efficiency of mixing.

4.8.5 Controls General

The stage-discharge relation for open-channel flow at a gauging station is governed by

channel conditions downstream from the gauge, referred to as a control. Two types of
control can exist, depending on channel and flow conditions. Low flows are usually
controlled by a section control, whereas high flows are usually controlled by a channel

Medium flows may be controlled by either type of control. At some stages, a

combination of section and channel control may occur. These are general rules and
exceptions can and do occur. Knowledge of the channel features that control the stage-
discharge relation is important.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

The development of stage-discharge curves where more than one control is effective,
where control features change, and where the number of measurements is limited,
usually requires judgment in interpolating between measurements and in extrapolating
beyond the highest or lowest measurements. This is particularly true where the controls
are not permanent and tend to shift from time to time, resulting in changes in the
positioning of segments of the stage-discharge relation. Controls and their governing
equations are described in the following clauses.

The equation for a rating curve is:

Q = Cr(Y-Y0)β (4.10)


Q is Stream discharge (cumec)

Y is the gauge height of the water surface,

Y0 is the zero of the gauge which represents the gauge reading corresponding to zero

β is the rating constant,

and Cr is a constant that is numerically equal to the discharge when the effective depth

of flow (Y-Y0) is equal to 1.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Q = Cr(Y-Y0)β

R2 = 0.98

FIGURE 4.14 Rating Curve Section Control

A section control is a specific cross-section of a stream channel, located downstream

from a water-level gauge that controls the relation between gauge height and discharge
at the gauge. A section control can be a natural feature such as a rock ledge, a sand
bar, a severe constriction in the channel, or an accumulation of debris.

Likewise, a section control can be a manmade feature such as a small dam, a weir, a
flume, or an overflow spillway. Section controls can frequently be visually identified in
the field by observing a riffle, or pronounced drop in the water surface, as the flow
passes over the control.

Frequently, as gauge height increases because of higher flows, the section control will
become submerged to the extent that it no longer controls the relation between gauge
height and discharge. At this point, the riffle is no longer observable, and flow is then
regulated either by another section control further downstream, or by the hydraulic
geometry and roughness of the channel downstream (i.e. channel control).

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Channel Control

A channel control consists of a combination of features throughout a reach downstream

from a gauge. These features include channel size, shape, curvature, slope, and
rugosity. The length of channel reach that controls a stage-discharge relation varies.
The stage-discharge relation for relatively steep channels may be controlled by a
relatively short channel reach, whereas, the relation for a relatively flat channel may be
controlled by a much longer channel reach. In addition, the length of a channel control
will vary depending on the magnitude of flow. Precise definition of the length of a
channel-control reach is usually neither possible nor necessary. Combination Controls

At some stages, the stage-discharge relation may be governed by a combination of

section and channel controls. This usually occurs for a short range in stage between
section-controlled and channel-controlled segments of the rating. This part of the rating
is commonly referred to as a transition zone of the rating, and represents the change
from section control to channel control.

In other instances, a combination control may consist of two section controls, where
each has partial controlling effect. More than two controls acting simultaneously is rare.
In any case, combination controls, and/or transition zones, occur for very limited parts of
a stage-discharge relation and can usually be defined by plotting procedures. Transition
zones in particular represent changes in the slope or shape of a stage-discharge

4.8.6 Governing Hydraulic Equations

Stage-discharge relations are hydraulic relations that can be defined according to the
type of control that exists. Section controls, either natural or manmade, are governed by
some form of the weir or flume equations. In a very general and basic form, these
equations are expressed as:

Q = CDBH1.5 (4.11)


Q is discharge, in cubic metres per second (m3/s),

CD is a coefficient of discharge and may include several factors,

B is cross-section width, in metres (m),

and H is hydraulic head, in metres.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Stage-discharge relations for channel controls with uniform flow are governed by the
Manning or Chezy equation, as it applies to the reach of controlling channel
downstream from a gauge.

The Manning equation is:

Q= (A rh0.67 Sf0.5 )/n (4.12)


A is cross-section area, in square metres,

rh is hydraulic radius, in metres,

Sf is friction slope,

and n is channel rugosity.

The Chezy equation is:

Q = CA rh0.50 Sf 0.50 (4.13)

where C is the Chezy form of rugosity.

The above equations are generally applicable for gradually varied, uniform flow. For
highly varied, nonuniform flow, equations such as the Saint-Venant unsteady flow
equations would be appropriate. However, these are seldom used in the development of
stage-discharge relations.

4.8.7 Complexities of Stage-Discharge Relations

Stage-discharge relations for stable controls such as a rock outcrop and manmade
structures such as weirs, flumes, and small dams usually present few problems in their
calibration and maintenance. However, complexities can arise when controls are not
stable and/or when variable backwater occurs.

For unstable controls, segments of a stage-discharge relation may change position

occasionally, or even frequently. This is usually a temporary condition which can be
accounted for through the use of the shifting-control method.

Variable backwater can affect a stage-discharge relation, both for stable and unstable
channels. Sources of backwater can be downstream reservoirs, tributaries, tides, ice,
dams and other obstructions that influence the flow at the gauging station control.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Another complexity that exists for some streams is hysteresis, which results when the
water surface slope changes due to either rapidly rising or rapidly falling water levels in
a channel control reach.

Hysteresis is sometimes referred to as loop ratings, and is most pronounced in relatively

flat sloped streams. On rising stages the water surface slope is significantly steeper
than for steady flow conditions, resulting in greater discharge than indicated by the
steady flow rating. The reverse is true for falling stages.

RC-Rating Curve

FIGURE 4.15 Loop Rating Curve

4.8.9 Rating Tables

A rating table can be prepared directly from the stage-discharge relation or from the
equation(s) of the curve(s), showing the discharges corresponding to stages in
ascending order, and at intervals suited to the desired degree of interpolation. This can
be conveniently performed by a computer program using the stage-discharge relation.
However, it may be useful to program the data for computer evaluation using the stage-
discharge equations without resorting to a rating table.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

4.8.10 Extrapolation of the Stage-Discharge Relation

A stage-discharge curve should not be applied outside the range of observations upon
which it is based. If estimates of flow, however, are required, they should be so
identified having regard to the range, number and quality of the observations which
have been made, to the natural features of the gauging station and to the conditions of
flow with respect to time.

Little reliance shall be placed on extrapolation below the lowest observed value.
Discharges determined by extrapolation shall be distinguished from those derived by
interpolation. Notwithstanding, a record may be considered a standard record provided
the sum of the estimated quantities does not exceed 5% of the total runoff for the year.



4.9.1 Principle

When physical and hydraulic conditions permit, an artificial control consisting of a fixed,
undeformable structure may be installed. The stage-discharge relation shall then
depend on the geometrical characteristics of the artificial control and shall be defined
either by

— the application of the relevant Indian/International Standard , or

— by a previous calibration using other methods.

4.9.2 Survey and Selection of Site

A preliminary survey shall be made of the physical and hydraulic features of the
proposed site to check that it conforms (or may be constructed or modified so as to
conform) to the requirements necessary for measurement of discharge by the structure
as specified in the IS 12752:2013. Particular attention shall be paid to the following
features in selecting the site.

a) If adequacy of the length of channel relative to the regular cross-section;

b) uniformity of the existing velocity distribution;

c) avoidance of a steep channel (Froude number shall not exceed approximately


d) effects of any increased upstream water levels due to the measuring structure;

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

e) conditions downstream of the control structure (including tides, confluences with

other controlling features, seasonal weed growth);

f) impermeability of the ground on which the structure is to be founded and the

necessity for piling, grouting or other means of controlling seepage;

g) necessity for flood banks, to confine the maximum discharge to the channel;

h) stability of the banks, and the necessity for trimming and/or revetment;

i) uniformity of section of the approach channel.

The site does not possess the characteristics necessary for satisfactory measurements,
or if an inspection of the stream shows that the velocity distribution in the approach-
channel deviates appreciably from uniformity, the site may have to be rejected unless
suitable improvements are practicable. Alternatively, the performance of the installation
shall be checked by independent flow measurement.

The flow conditions downstream of the structure are important in that they control the
tail-water level which may influence its operation. The structure shall be so designed
that it cannot become drowned under the operating conditions specified in the IS
12752:2013. Construction of a measuring structure in a river or stream may alter
conditions and cause scouring downstream of the structure, hence appropriate bank
and bed protection should be included in the design.

If the flow in the approach channel is disturbed by irregularities in the boundary, for
example large boulders or rock outcrops, or by a bend, sluice gate or other feature
which causes asymmetry of discharge across the channel, the accuracy of gauging may
be affected. The flow in the approach channel should have a symmetrical velocity
distribution; this can most readily be ensured by providing a long straight approach
channel of uniform cross-section.

The cross-section of the approach shall be uniform for a length of approximately 10

times the width, in order to produce a regular (uniform) velocity distribution.

Conditions in the approach channel can be verified by inspection or measurement.

Several methods are available, such as floats, velocity rods, or concentrations of dye,
the latter being useful in checking conditions at the bottom of the channel. A complete
and quantitative assessment of velocity distribution may be made by means of a

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4.9.3 Types of Measuring Structure

tructure Standardized Measuring

easuring Structures

The calibration equations of standard

ized measuring structures which are the subject of
(IS 9108:2013, IS 13084:1991, IS 13083:2017 IS 14673:2014, IS 14869:2016) shall be
strictly complied with:

a) thin-plate weirs — full-width

— with side contraction

— notches

b) broad-crested weirs — rectangular,

ctangular, with sharp edges

— rectangular, with rounded edges

— triangular profile

c) standing-wave flumes — with side contraction

4.16 Different Type of Thin Plate Weirs


Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 4.17 Different Type of Broad Crest Weirs

A Parshall measuring flume A concrete, broad-crested

artificial control

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

A concrete, broad-crested A suppressed rectangular weir

artificial control with a shallow V
notch in the centre

Trench weir Bhaleth TRC Weir Baira-Siul

FIGURE 4.18 Different Type of Discharge Measuring structures Choice of Measuring Structure

A guide for the selection of weirs and flumes is given in IS 12752:2013, to which
reference shall be made.

The parameters involved in selecting a structure are:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

— expected difference in water level (afflux) after construction;

— measuring accuracy;

— dimensions and shape of channel;

— conditions of flow in the approach channel;

— presence of floating or suspended debris;

— magnitude and range of discharge to be measured. Construction and Installation

The gauging station shall consist of an approach channel, a measuring structure

(including its associated upstream gauges), a downstream channel and a reference
gauge. Normally a water-level recorder is installed to provide a continuous record of

The measuring structure shall be rigid and watertight, and capable of withstanding
flood-flow conditions without damage from flow around the ends or from downstream
erosion. The axis shall be in line with the direction of flow of the upstream channel, and
the geometry shall conform to the dimensions given in the Indian Standard mentioned in

The surface of a flume may be constructed in concrete with a smooth cement finish or
surfaced with a smooth non-corrodible material. The weir crest shall be constructed
using precision tooling.

Precautionary measures shall be taken to avoid scouring, particularly downstream.

Appropriate devices shall, if necessary, be placed upstream to straighten flow in the

approach channel. These devices may be in the form of baffles in order to avoid
asymmetric flow and to obtain an acceptable velocity distribution in the vertical and
horizontal planes. Checking of Dimensions

In order to obtain an acceptable uncertainty in the discharge, the tolerances in

construction, which are given in the relevant Indian Standard mentioned in, shall
be followed. The structure shall therefore be measured on completion and average
values of relevant dimensions and their standard deviations at 95% confidence limits
computed. The former shall be used for computation of discharge and the latter shall be
used to obtain the overall uncertainty in the determination of discharge.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Stage Measurement

The position of the stage (head)-measuring section with respect to measuring structures
is dealt with in the relevant International Standard. If a flow straightener or baffle is used
upstream, the distance between the stage-measuring section and this device shall not
be less than 10 times the maximum head.

As the size of the structure and the head reduce, small discrepancies in construction, in
the zero setting and reading of the stage-measuring device become of greater relative

The accurate initial setting of the zero of the stage measuring device with reference to
the level of the weir crest or the invert of the throat, and regular checking of this setting
thereafter, are essential if overall accuracy is to be maintained.

An accurate means of checking the zero shall be provided. The instrument zero shall be
obtained by a direct reference to the crest level or throat invert, and a datum plate shall
be set on the wall of the approach channel and in the stilling well accurately Ievelled
with reference to the crest or throat.

The reference gauge and recorder shall conform to IS 4080:1994 & IS 15118:2014.



4.10.1 General

In a stable channel with variable downstream control of water level, when there is no
unique relation between stage and discharge, there may be a relation between water-
surface slope (or fall), stage and discharge. In such channels, two gauges are used to
measure water level at two locations sufficiently far apart to compute water-surface
slope or fall.

A relation between slope (or fall), stage and discharge can be developed according to
the procedure given in procedure given in IS 15847:2009. The site should be sensitive,
such that even for the lowest discharge, there should be measurable fall between the
two gauges. Small errors in stage readings during calibration at a non-sensitive station
can result in large errors in the discharge indicated by the stage-fall-discharge relation.

4.10.2 Types of Stage-Fall-Discharge Relationships

Under conditions of variable backwater, the fall as measured between the reference
gauge and the auxiliary gauge is used as a third parameter, and the rating becomes a

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

stage-fall-discharge relationship. Stage-fall-discharge methods fall into the following two

broad categories:

a) constant-fall method, of which the unit-fall method is a special case;

b) variable-fall method. The applicable method for a stream reach depends to a large
degree on whether the backwater is intermittent or always present.

The constant-fall method works best when backwater is always present at all gauge
heights, but can sometimes be adapted to intermittent backwater conditions. The unit-
fall method is the simplest and requires the least amount of data for calibration. The
unit-fall method should be used as a starting point before attempting more complex

Variable-fall methods are the most complex and require the most data for calibration.
The variable-fall method works best for the intermittent backwater condition.

The unit-fall method is a special case of the constant-fall method, where the constant
fall is unity (1m ). The unit-fall method is used with the assumption that the relationship
between the discharge ratio (Q/Qc) and the fall ratio (h/hc) is exactly a square root
relationship, as given by the following formulae:

Q/Qc = (h/hc)0.5 = (h/1) 0.5 = h0.5 (4.14)

Q = Qc(h0.5) or Qc = Q/(h0.5) (4.15)


Q is the measured discharge, expressed in cubic metres per second;

h is the measured fall, expressed in metres;

Qc is the discharge, expressed in cubic metres per second, from the rating curve
corresponding to the constant fall and the reference gauge height;

hc is the constant fall, expressed in metres ( for the unit-fall method).

4.10.3 Preparatory Work

A preliminary survey should be made to ensure that a length of reach is adequate to

provide sufficient fall for acceptable accuracy. Two suitable gauging sites should be
available, one at each end of the reach, for the purpose of measuring water level. There
should be no significant tributary inflow to or outflow from the reach between the two
gauging sites.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

4.10.4 Stage Measurement and Recording Composition of Gauging Station

The gauging station shall consist of two water-level gauges, one of which is the
reference gauge. Water Level recorders may be installed to produce a continuous or
intermittent record of stage. The reference gauge should be located as close as
possible to the discharge measurement site. Benchmarks

Gauging-station benchmarks shall be established to maintain the datum of the gauge

zero. It is recommended that if there is a national grid benchmark (GTS) of a good
quality within 5 km of the site then one permanent site benchmark should be
established. Whenever possible this should be located within 500 m of the main set of
reference staff gauges but above the maximum flood level and away from other
potential sources of damage e.g. vehicular access tracks. This benchmark should be
linked to the GTS network by double levelling from the nearest reliable national grid
benchmark. If the distance to the nearest reliable GTS bench mark is greater than 5 km,
then two independent bench marks should be established in the close to the main set of
staff gauges but at separate locations. In the first instance these bench marks should be
double levelled relative to each other by means an arbitrary datum e.g. assume one
bench mark is at 100 m, until such time as it is possible to link them both to the GTS
system. The benchmarks should be linked to the GTS system by double levelling as
soon as possible after their construction. Stage (reference) Gauges

The stage-measuring gauges and recorders shall conform in all respects to the
requirements of stage gauges specified in section 4.2. Discharge Measurement

The stage-fall-discharge relation shall be calibrated by measuring the discharge

corresponding to different stage and fall values. Discharge measurement shall be made
in accordance with section 4.5. Operation of the Station

The operation of the station shall conform to the specifications in Indian/International

standards for the two gauges and stage recorders. As the slope or fall is determined by
a difference between stage readings at two gauges, careful attention should be given to
stage and time adjustment for the two recorders.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual


For these types of station, control sections or control reaches are not necessary.
Instantaneous measurement by appropriate means of the cross-sectional area and
mean velocity can be used for the determination of discharge.

4.11.1 Ultrasonic Gauging Stations Principle

The Transit-time Differential Method-The principle of the ultrasonic (acoustic) method

is to measure the velocity of flow at a certain depth in the channel by transmitting
acoustic pulses in both directions through the water from transducers located in the
bank on each side of the river.

The transducers may be designed to transmit and receive pulses. They are staggered
so that the angle between the acoustic path and the direction of flow is usually between
30° and 60°. The difference between the time of travel of the pulses crossing the river in
an upstream direction and those travelling downstream is directly related to the average
velocity of the water at the depth of the transducers.

This velocity can then be related to the average velocity of flow of the whole cross-
section and, if desired, by incorporating an area factor in the electronic processor the
system will provide an output (readout) of discharge. The requirements for the selection
of site, design, construction and operation of an ultrasonic gauging station are dealt with
in IS 16223:2014 & ISO 6416. A summary of the main requirements and specifications
is given in the following sections.

FIGURE 4.19 Schematic Diagram of the Transit Time Differential Method

If D is distance AB between sensors,

V is velocity of fluid,
Cs is speed of sound in fluid,

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

θ is angle between transit path and flow

∆T is difference in transit time TBA & TAB
∆T = TBA - TAB
The flow velocity is given by: V = (Cs2 ∆T ) / (2D cos θ) (4.16)

Doppler Effect Method -This is used to determine water velocity by sending a

sound pulse into the water and measuring the change in frequency of that sound
pulse reflected back to the ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers) by
sediment or other particulates being transported in the water.

FIGURE 4.20 Schematic Diagram of the Doppler Effect Method Ultrasonic Equipments The Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP)

It is a device for measuring current velocity and direction, throughout the water column,
in an efficient and non-intrusive manner. It can produce an instantaneous velocity profile
down through the water column while disturbing only the top few decimetres.

The principle of the ultrasonic method is to measure the velocity of flow at a certain
depth by simultaneously transmitting sound pulses through the water from transducers
located on either side of the river. The ADCP uses ultrasonic waves to measure water
velocity using a principle of physics discovered by Christian Doppler. The reflection of
sound-waves from a moving particle causes an apparent change in frequency to the
reflected sound wave. The difference in frequency between the transmitted and
reflected sound wave is known as the Doppler shift.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

There are two types of ultrasonic systems commonly in operation, the first where the
transducers are fixed in position, needs current meter calibration and the second where
the transducers are designed to slide on either a vertical or inclined assembly, the
system is self-calibrating.

An ADCP is usually a cylinder with a transducer head on the end. The transducer head
is a ring of three or four acoustic transducers with their faces angled to the horizontal
and at specified angles to each other. It can be connected to telemetry systems for real
time discharge data observation.

FIGURE 4.21 Sketch Illustrating Typical ADCP Sensors

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 4.22 Boat Mounted ADCP Non-Contact Q Eye Radar System

FIGURE 4.23 A Typical Transmitter, non-contact Radar Velocity Sensor and Ultrasonic
Water Level Sensor

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 4.24 Automatic Water Level Recorder and velocity profiler at Subansiri
Lower Project

Non-contact Q-Eye radar system of velocity measurement with telemetry facility has
been installed by Virtual Electronics at Permanent bridge location in Subansiri Lower

FIGURE 4.25 Non Contact Q Eye Radar System

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

It consists of radar based velocity sensor and ultra-sonic based depth sensor.

This system can measure velocity along a horizontal line and was installed at a height
of 21 m from surface of the river. It is transmitting data at an interval of 2 min by
GSM/GPRS technology to the website . At present, it is in
experimental stage. Once finalized, this method of velocity measurement can be
implemented in other projects also.

FIGURE 4.26 Installation of Q Eye Radar System Design and Construction

The gauging station shall consist of:

a) one or more pairs of transducers (single-path or multipath);

1) either installed on each bank and fixed permanently in position,

2) or installed on each bank, and having facility of movement in the vertical plane or
on an incline.

b) an electronic console containing an electronic data processor and a data recorder,

or an output to a telemetry system;

c) a level recorder interfaced with an electronic data processor;

d) a reference-stage gauge.

All interconnecting cables to or from transducers shall be shielded and damage-


The decision to use a single-path or multipath system will depend on the intended
accuracy of the desired system, the range in stage to be expected, the vertical velocity

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

distribution at these stages and the attenuation and reflection limitations. If a

satisfactory rating can be achieved from a velocity index at all stages, the single-path
system may be considered in preference to a multipath system. For this method of fixed
transducers, a path or index velocity is obtained, which is related to stage and area to
obtain discharge. Calibration by current-meter is required in this method.

For the method whereby the transducers are designed to move on a vertical or inclined
assembly, the system is self-calibrating. This is performed by establishing vertical-
velocity curves by moving the transducers to the various paths and obtaining a series of
path velocities in the vertical. This should be performed at different values of stage and
the resulting curves analysed to determine the optimum location to fix the transducers.

In the multipath system, where several pairs of transducers are employed, the optimum
positions of these shall be determined from a preliminary examination of vertical-velocity
curves obtained by current-meter.

The transducers should be fixed and preferably mounted on an assembly. When the
positions of the transducer mountings have been decided, the angle and path length
between the mountings shall be carefully surveyed for subsequent programming into
the electronic processor.
A survey of the bed level between the transducer mountings along the path length shall
be made, and the average bed level shall then be calculated for input into the electronic
processor where discharge is being determined on-site. This survey shall be repeated
periodically as an operational requirement.

The reference gauge and level sensor shall be in accordance with IS 4080:1994 & IS
15118:2014. The ultrasonic equipment shall be in accordance with IS 16223:2014.

4.11.2 Measurement of Discharge through Control Structures

After the controlled structure i.e. Dam, Barrage constructed across the river for storage
of water for Power generation is operational, inflow in the river starts measuring at the
control structure. The methodology followed for this is as below:

 Hydraulic model studies are conducted at CWPRS, Pune on a 3-D comprehensive

model to an undistorted geometrically similar scale. The scale varies as per the size/
dimension of the structure which may be 1:50 to 1:100. From the study, a table is
derived for spillway discharging capacity for full and partial gate openings at different
reservoir levels. Spillway discharging capacity is interpolated for 0.1 m interval of the
reservoir level.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 Inflow in the river is calculated by back calculation. For this average hourly outflow
through control structure, silt flushing tunnels and water utilization by machines for
power generation is calculated. Discharge through machine is calculated by
observing velocity by Flow-meters (Figure 4.27 & 4.28) fitted on penstocks. The
increase/ decrease in the storage of reservoir is calculated based on the Reservoir
Elevation-Area-Capacity table derived from latest reservoir hydrographic survey. The
inflow (cumecs) is calculated using the water balance equation:

Inflow = Outflow + (Change in Storage in a One Hour duration /3600)

 Design Division has issued IMS Format IMS/DED/F-08, REV NO.02 (Annexure-4.C)
for reporting outflow by the Power Station/ Project.

 Hydrology division calculates inflow based on the outflow report of the Power
Station/ Project.

FIGURE 4.27 Flow Meter Fitted With Penstock

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 4.28 Flow Meter Chamera-I Power Station



4.12.1 Ice Conditions

Weather conditions such as frost or ice may impede the operation of the stage-sensing
device or recorder and the application of normal measuring methods, thus affecting the
stability of the stage-discharge relation. Stilling Well

Any stilling well and inlet pipes shall be constructed in such a manner that the system
will remain operational during extended periods of freezing temperatures. This may be
achieved by the following.

a) Construct the well of nonconductive materials, or insulate to prevent frost


b) Where necessary and feasible, the lower inlet pipe shall be wrapped with electrical
heating tape, or the heating tape placed inside the inlet pipe, so that it may be kept
free of ice using a commercial power source or portable generator. A steaming
apparatus having the necessary length of steam hose may also be used to thaw an
inlet pipe.

c) Inlet pipes shall be positioned such that the lower pipe is below the bottom of the ice
sheet, and the upper pipe is above the ice sheet. In this way the recorder will
operate on the lower inlet during the freezing period and, should lower inlet freeze,
the upper inlet will become operative during the snowmelt freshet while the lower
intake thaws.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

d) Stilling wells which are constructed far enough into the bank to be below the frost
line may be kept free of ice through the use of a removable insulated subfloor. The
subfloor shall be positioned below the frost line but above the maximum likely water
level during the freezing period. Provision shall be made for free passage of the float
and counterweight wires. The subfloor should be removed prior to the snowmelt

e) In certain areas, the use of the following method may be acceptable. An open-ended
waterproof cylinder, of diameter larger than the float diameter, shall be placed
vertically in the well and partially filled with a nonvolatile petroleum distillate.

f) Stilling wells may be heated by means of electrical or propane (bottled gas) heaters.
In some instances, it may be necessary to mount the heater on a separate float
system or to incorporate an electric immersion heater into the recorder float to
prevent freezing of the well.

It may be necessary to heat the water stage instrumentation to ensure continuous

operation under severe temperatures, although some instruments will operate at
temperatures of – 450C if special cold temperature lubricants are used.


The publication of streamflow data may take many forms depending on the frequency
and format of publication adopted. The most valuable information is a table of daily
mean discharges, monthly mean discharges, monthly run-off, annual runoff and annual
discharge. Other useful options may be conveniently retrieved from the archive as

a) table of monthly extreme flows (over years);

b) hydrographs of daily mean flows;

c) hydrographs of monthly ,mean flows;

d) flow duration statistics (tabulation of 1 percentile to 99 percentile flows with a flow

duration curve);

e) table of hydrometric statistics;

f) gauging station summary sheet (may include daily flow hydrographs, flow duration
curve, flow statistics, catchment characteristics, rainfall and runoff, etc.).

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 4.29 Flood Hydrograph

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

TABLE 4.3 Recommended accuracy (uncertainty levels) expressed at the 95

percent confidence interval

Water level 10-20 mm

Wave height 10%
Water depth 0.1 m, 2%
Width of water surface 0.5 %
Velocity of flow 2–5%
Discharge 5%


Minimum densities of various types of hydrological stations are recommended for

different climatic and geographic zones. These recommendations are based on the
1991 review of Members’ responses regarding the WMO basic network assessment
project (WMO/TD-No. 671) and are presented in Table 4.4

TABLE 4.4 Recommended Minimum density of station (Area in Sqkm per station)

Minimum Density
Coastal 2750 Sqkm
Mountains 1000 Sqkm
Interiors plains 1875 Sqkm
Hilly/undulating 1875 Sqkm
Small Island 300 Sqkm
Polar/Arid 20000 Sqkm


Observing systems and instrumentation must be regularly maintained so that the

observations do not deteriorate in quality and reliability. This includes “housekeeping”
of the site such as cutting of the brush, removing weeds, cleaning of the instruments
and performing recommended checks by observers or other on-site staff.

• Equipment should be repaired or replaced within prescribed time intervals that take
into account life expectancies of instrumentation.

• Routine maintenance and inspection usually take place concurrently. Without strict
adherence to prescribed inspection and maintenance programs and schedules, the
quality of gauge and discharge observations can deteriorate dramatically and

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• Before visiting a station, inspectors and maintainers should be current on all

information available for the station, including recent trends in data quality, date and
type of last repairs, calibrations, etc.

• At each inspection of a human-based observation station, the inspector should

determine that observer training is up to date, the observer(s) is competent, and
advice is given as necessary on matters such as recording and reporting of
observations, calculation of derived measurements, cleaning of instruments, etc.

• The inspector should ensure the equipment is in good working order, is configured in
prescribed patterns in compounds and verifies against relevant standards. The
relative accuracy of individual sensors in use must be known. As such the
instruments must be correctly calibrated before use. Calibrations usually take place
in government’s instrument calibration centre or certified commercial laboratories.

• The production of a satisfactory record depends on the station being maintained in

full operating order at all times. This requires efficient attention to the recorder and
proper maintenance of the station, its equipment and its calibration.

• Where a station is fitted only with a reference gauge or reference gauges (vertical,
inclined, wire-weight or hook) and no water-level recorder, the local observers shall
be required to furnish readings at specified intervals of all the gauges in their care.
Preferably the readings shall be made at fixed hours.

• The intervals between the readings shall be determined by the rate at which the
water level at the site changes, but arrangements shall be made to have additional
readings when the water level is changing more rapidly than usual. It is essential
that the local observer records the exact time and correct date of each gauge

• When a recorder is provided, visits by the observer should be made throughout the
period to verify that the recorder is operating satisfactorily. The observer shall be
required to record readings of stage from the reference gauge with the exact time of
recording for comparison with the recorder reading.

• To relate the readings to a chart trace, the observer may mark the chart. At all
stations, the observer shall record any obstruction of the channel, for example by
weeds or ice, and shall note any casual obstruction of the channel, inlet pipe(s),
measuring structure or transducer mountings caused by flood debris or any other
cause. The site and equipment shall be kept generally clean and tidy, particular
attention being paid to legibility of the reference gauge. The observer may be
required to dispatch all records, tapes or charts to the record office for processing

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

immediately after they have been completed, together with any relevant notes or

• At each inspection of a human-based observation station, the inspector should

determine that observer training is up to date, the observer(s) is competent, and
advice is given as necessary on matters such as recording and reporting of
observations, calculation of derived measurements, cleaning of instruments, etc.

• Every gauging station shall be inspected whenever any incident which might affect
its accuracy is reported by the observer.

• Detailed inspection records must be prepared routinely and retained. These include
records of instrument changes, calibration drifts, differences from traveling
standards, repairs, exposure and surrounding changes etc.

• All mechanical recorders and recorder clocks shall be cleaned and lubricated in
accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or as indicated by experience under
prevailing operating conditions.

• The inspector should ensure the equipment is in good working order, is configured in
prescribed patterns in compounds and verifies against relevant standards. The
relative accuracy of individual sensors in use must be known. As such the
instruments must be correctly calibrated before use. Calibrations usually take place
in government’s instrument calibration centre or certified commercial laboratories

• The elevation of all key points (including particularly the zero of the reference gauge)
shall be surveyed when the station is established and shall be checked by reference
to the station benchmark at least annually or following any flood when equipment
might have been damaged by debris or by ice. At the same time, any vertical staff
gauge shall be tested for verticality. Where feasible, correlation of the station
benchmark with a National Survey datum shall be checked at intervals of not greater
than five years.

• Bed profiles shall be checked after a flood.


The gauge and discharge data observed should be sent regularly on monthly basis to
Hydrology Section, Design & Engineering Division in the following formats enclosed as
Annexure-4.A to Annexure-4.C.



Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual



1. IS code –1191:2003 Hydrometric determinations vocabulary and symbols

2. IS code – 1192:2013 Measurement Of Liquid Flow In Open Channels Using

Current-Meters Or Floats

3. IS code –2912:1999 Liquid flow measurement in open channels - Slope-area


4. IS code–3910:2013 Requirements for water flow measurement in open

channels- Rotating element current meters

5. IS code –3911:1994 Surface floats -Functional requirements

6. IS code –3912:2013 Direct Depth Sounding And Suspension Equipment

7. IS code –3918:1966 Cup type current meter for water flow measurements

8. IS code –4058:1966 Velocity Rods

9. IS code –4080:1994 Vertical staff gauges – Functional requirements

10. IS code - 4073:1967 Specification For Fish Weights

11. IS code -9108:2013 Open Channel Flow Measurement Using Thin-Plate Weirs

12. IS code – 9116:2002 Water stage recorder (float type) Specification

13. IS code –9922:2010 General guidelines for selection of methods

14. IS code –12752:2013 Flow gauging structures guidelines for selections

15. IS code –13371:2014 Calibration Of Current-Meters In Straight Open Tanks

16. IS code –14359:2014 Echo Sounders For Water Depth Measurements

17. IS code –15117:2002 Cableway Systems For Stream Gauging

18. IS code – 15118-1:2014 Water level measuring devices

19. IS code – 15119-1:2002 Measurement of liquid flow in open channels -

Establishment or operation of Gauging station

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

20. IS code – 15119-2:2014 Measurement of liquid flow in open channels –

Determination of the stage-discharge relation

21. IS code –15772:2002 Field Measurement Of Discharge In Large Rivers And

Rivers In Flood

22. IS code –15847:2009 Measurement Of Liquid Flow In Open Channels-stage-

fall-discharge Relationship

23. IS code –15898-1:2012 Measurement Of Liquid Flow In Open Channels –

Tracer Dilution Methods For The Measurement Of Steady Flow

24. IS code –16138-1:2013 Measurement Of Liquid Velocity In Open Channels -

Design, Selection And Use Of Electromagnetic Current Meters

25. IS code –16138-1:2013 Guidelines For The Application Of Acoustic Velocity

Meters Using The Doppler And Echo Correlation Methods

26. WMO No. 1044 – 2010 Manual on stream gauging Vol-I Fieldwork

27. WMO No. 1044 – 2010 Manual on stream gauging Vol-II Computation of

28. Hydrology Project, Govt. of India, “Surface water handbook-water level, stage-
discharge and flows May 2014”

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

RIVER :------- SITE : --- METHOD: ---------- TIME : ----- MONTH & YEAR : ------
ZERO OF THE GAUGE : -------m
Date Water Area (Sq.m) Surface Velocity (m/sec) Mean Velocity (m/sec) Discharge (cumec) Total
Level Seg-1 Seg-2 Seg-3 Seg-1 Seg-2 Seg-3 Seg-1 Seg-2 Seg-3 Seg-1 Seg-2 Seg-3 Discharge
(m) (cumec)

Note:- Number of segment will depend upon width of the cross-section.

Signature of
Signature of

IMS/DED/F-19 Issued By: Approved By:

REV NO. 00 (DDC) (HOD)
Date:19.01.2018 Date:19.01.2018 Date:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual



RIVER: ------------- SITE:------ MONTH & YEAR : ----------- ZERO OF THE GAUGE: _ m


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Signature of
Signature of

IMS/DED/F-20 Issued Approved By:

REV NO. 00 By: (HOD)
Eff Date: (DDC)
19.01.2018 Date:19.01.2018 Date:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Gate Size:…………m(H)x…………..m(W)
Average Discharge passed Through
Avg. Total
Avg. Discharge Leakag
Level (M)
Gen. through Env. Avg.
Time during Machine Flow
any) outfl
Duration the (cumec) ow
period Avg. Avg. Avg.
Avg. (cum
(MW) Opening Avg. Avg. Discha Avg. Discha
Final Final (m) Discharge Opening rge Opening rge
Cumec Cumec ec)
(Cumec) (m) (Cume (m) (Cume
c) c)

Note: 1. Number of spillway gates may vary from power station to power station.
2. Power Station is required to mention in Foot Note that whether the discharge through machine is measured from
Flow meter.

Signature of Signature of
(Sup./JE/AE) (AM/DM/Mgr.)

Issued Approved
IMS/DED/F-08 By: By:
Rev No. 02 (DDC)
Date:13.06.2017 Date:13.06.2017
Eff. Date (HOD)

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual




Type of sediment load - Sediment load may be classified as suspended load or bed
load according to the mode of movement in the river.

Suspended Load — That part of the sediment load of a stream which remains in
suspension in the flowing water for considerable periods of time without contact with the
stream bed, being kept up by the upward component of the turbulence or by colloidal
suspension and which moves practically with the same velocity as that of flowing water.
It is normally composed of silt, clay and sand. It is classified as fine (<62 µ), medium (62
µ<d<250 µ) & coarse (>250 µ). Its unit of measurement is gram/litre or PPM.

Wash Load — That part of the suspended load which is composed of particle sizes
smaller than those found in appreciable quantities in the shifting portions of the stream
bed. It is generally composed of silt & clay (<62 µ). It is in near permanent suspension
and is transported entirely through the stream without deposition. The discharge of the
wash load through a reach depends only on the rate with which these particles become
available in the catchment and not on the transport capacity of flow.

Bed Load —It is the part of sediment load that moves in almost continuous contact with
the streambed by saltation and traction, that is, by bouncing, sliding and rolling on or
near the streambed by the force of water.

Contact Load — The sediment that is rolling or sliding along the bed of the stream in
substantially continuous contact with the bed.

Saltation Load — The sediment bouncing and hopping along the bed of the stream or
moved directly or indirectly by the impact of the bouncing particles.

Total load — The purpose of sediment measurements at hydrometric stations or

specific locations in a river is to monitor the total sediment load flowing through the
section. Ideally, total load is the summation of the suspended load and the bed load, in
view of the type of movement of the sediment.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Sediment Concentration — The ratio of the mass or volume of dry sediment in a

water-sediment mixture to the total mass or volume of the suspension. Its unit of
measurement is gram/litre or PPM.


5.2.1 Sampling Instruments

Suspended Load Sampler

Several types of suspended-sediment samplers are in use, for example, instantaneous,

bottle, pumping or integrating. However, only some of these are designed so that the
velocity within the cutting circle of the sampler intake is equal to the ambient stream
velocity. This feature is essential so that the samples obtained are truly representative
of the suspended-sediment discharge at the point of measurement. The well-designed
sampler faces the approaching flow, and its intake protrudes upstream from the zone of
disturbance caused by the presence of the sampler.

Several types of samplers have been developed to cater to various functional

requirements. These samplers may be grouped as follows:

a) Vertical pipe,

b) Instantaneous horizontal or vertical type,

c) Bottle type,

d) Depth integrating type,

e) Point integrating type, and

f) Pump type.

Instantaneous samples are usually taken by trap samplers consisting of a horizontal

cylinder equipped with end valves that can be closed suddenly to trap a sample at any
desired time and depth. The very simple bottle sampler is corked or provided with an
orifice of variable diameter, or wide open. As soon as the bottle is opened and air within
the bottle is being displaced by the sample, bubbling takes place at the mouth, which
slows the filling process. Consequently, bottle-sampling is not actually instantaneous.

The pumping sampler sucks the water-sediment mixture through a pipe or hose, the
intake of which is placed at the sampling point. By regulating the intake velocity, the
operator can obtain a sample that is representative of the sediment concentration at the
point of measurement. The integrating sampler consists of a metallic streamlined body

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

equipped with tail fins to orient it into the flow. The sample container is located in the
body of the sampler. An intake nozzle of variable diameter projects into the current from
the sampler head. An exhaust tube, pointing downstream, permits the escape of air
from the container. Valve mechanisms enclosed in the head are electrically operated by
the observer to start and stop the sampling process.

A relatively new method of in situ determination of suspended-sediment concentration is

the use of optical or nuclear gauges. The working principle of these instruments is that a
visible light of X-ray emitted by a source with constant intensity is scattered and/or
absorbed by the suspended-sediment particles. The decrease of intensity measured by
a photoelectric or nuclear detector situated at constant distance from the source is
proportional to the sediment concentration, if other relevant characteristics of water and
sediment (chemical, Mineral composition, etc.) remain unchanged.

In India, the bottle type suspended sediment load sampler known as Punjab Bottle type
sampler is most commonly used. It is equipped with a device for opening and closing
the sampler nozzle or mouth - for controlling the sampling time. Functional Requirements

The design of the suspended sediment load sampler should be based on the following
main technical requirements:
a) Sampler should be streamlined so as to minimize disturbance in the sediment flow;

b) Velocity of inflow at the mouth of the sampler should be equal to the velocity of
stream flow;

c) Mouth of the sampler should face the direction of current;

d) Mouth should be outside the zone of disturbance of flow set up by the body of the
sampler and its operating device;

e) Filling arrangement should be smooth without causing sudden in-rush or gulping;

f) Container should be easily removed, readily capped and transported to a laboratory

without loss of contents;

g) Sampler should be able to collect samples at any depth from surface to 0.3 m from
the bed without disturbing or contaminating the water sediment mixture at other
points while the sampler is being raised or lowered;

h) Sampler should be portable but sufficiently heavy to minimize deflection from the
vertical due to current drag;

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

j) It should be simple in design and construction and require minimum care for
maintenance and repair; and

k) Volume of the sample obtained should be sufficient for the determination of sediment

FIGURE 5.1 Bottle Type Sampler

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual General Description and Operation


The suspended sediment load sampler shall consist of the following main parts:

 Frame to hold the sampling bottle;

 Spring cylinder and pipe;
 Lever arrangement; and
 Sampling bottle of capacity not less than one litre, preferably +10 cc.

The frame provides arrangement for housing one litre bottle in vertical direction. It is
attached to a spring cylinder (or lower pipe) and to upper pipe(s), through which a
flexible metallic wire or rod is passed. At the lower end of the rod (or wire), a strong
rubber cork to suit the size of the mouth of the bottle is fixed and at the upper end of the
rod (or wire) a lever arrangement for raising or lowering the rubber cork is fixed. The
spring fitted inside the cylinder (or lower pipe) helps in keeping the rubber cork tightly
pressed against the mouth of the bottle to keep it effectively closed. Pipe pieces, each
of 2 m length are joined together with threaded sockets to make the pipe of required


The sampler with rubber cork fitted in the mouth of the bottle, is lowered by means of
the pipe to the desired sampling point. The lever is pressed for raising the cork and to
open the mouth of the bottle for the requisite time determined earlier for the conditions
under examination to fill the bottle with water sediment mixture. On release of the lever
the cork again fits in the mouth of the bottle under the action of the spring. The following
things should be checked before sampling:

Sampling bottle

• A metallic bottle, if deformed (out of shape) or damaged (especially its mouth) has to
be replaced by a spare one

• A glass bottle, if breached, has to be replaced by a spare one

Bottle cork

• Must close tightly to avoid leaking

• May never be painted

• Damaged corks must be replaced

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

• Cork must be suitably tapered to enter 0.5 to 1 cm in bottle mouth

• Eventually, rub smoothly lower end of cork with emery paper if cork does not enter
far enough into the bottle mouth

Bottle holder (frame)

• Clamps at neck and mid-portion may not be damaged and should hold tightly the
bottle with the cork seating perfectly axial in the mouth

• Fly nuts for locking must operate easily; they should be replaced if they don’t lock

• Socket thread may not be damaged

Pipe, rod, spring and lever

• Brass rod and pipe may not be bending

• Spring must be checked and dead springs replaced

Simpler leakage

• The sampler must be tested for possible leakage by holding it tightly closed under
water for 5 minutes and collected sample needs to be less than 5 cc.

• In case of leakage, do not try to repair on the spot and use spare sampler

During sampling: instructions and procedure

• The sampler must be oriented with the vertical frame perpendicular to the flow so
that it does not disturb the flow at the mouth

• The time required to fill the sampling bottle must be checked by trial and error, so
that sampled volume would total between 80 and 90 % of the bottle volume (i.e. 0.4 l
to 0.45 l for a 0.5 l bottle)

• Samples from partially or fully filled bottles must be rejected and a new sample taken

• Sampler may never touch the stream bed

• The distance between sampler bottom and the streambed must always be larger
than 20 cm

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

After sampling: instructions and precautions

• Reject the sample if there is any floating debris hanging to the sampler or trapped
between bottle mouth and cork

• The sample must be collected carefully, without spilling any water

• The volume of the collected sample must be measured precisely before rinsing,
even if sediment remains in the bottle, to be rinsed later with clean water

• If water or sediment is spilled during collection of sample, this must be rejected and
a new sample taken

• The rinsing water with its sediment must be added to the collected sample

5.2.2 Site Selection

Since sediment load is obtained as a product of mean concentration of the sediment

load in motion and the corresponding discharge in the river, the site for silt observation
should normally be the same as that for discharge observations.

The measuring site should be in the middle of a channel stretch that should be straight
over a distance at least 6 times the width at bankfull flow and be of uniform cross
section and slope, so as to avoid abnormal velocity distribution such as helical flow or
irregular velocity distribution. When this condition cannot be met, the length of the
channel with these flow conditions may be reduced, but keeping upstream of the
gauging section a length of straight channel at least twice the downstream part. Table
below presents indicative distances for complete mixing as a function of the average
stream width and mean depth.

 Sites displaying vortices, reverse flow or dead water should be avoided, especially
when associated with structures in the streambed or with bed rock outcrops.

 The measurement section should be clearly visible across its width and
unobstructed by trees, aquatic growth or other obstacles. When gauging is only
possible from a bridge with divide piers, each section of the channel should be
treated accordingly.

 The depth of water at the section should be sufficient at all stages to provide for the
effective immersion of the instruments, whichever is to be used.

 The site should have easy access at all times, for all necessary measurement

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

TABLE 5.1 Estimated Distance for Complete Mixing in Streams and Rivers (after
Bartram & Balance, Water Quality Monitoring, E. & F.N. Spon, London, 1996)


5.3.1 Principles of Measurement

The concentration of suspended sediment (Ci) and the current velocity (Vi) are
measured practically simultaneously at a large number (m) of points in the sampling
area of a cross-section. Each concentration and velocity is representative of a small
area ( ai ) of a sampling cross-section. The sum of all the areas ( ai ) is the sampling
area ( A );

The average static concentration Cs is given by:


Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

The mean concentration of suspended sediment load in motion is given by:

∑Ci Vi ai ∑Ci Vi ai
Cm   (5.2)
∑ ai Vi Q


Q =∑ai Vi, is the discharge in the sampling area.

The, suspended sediment load through the sampling area is the product of the mean
concentration in motion and the discharge, that is, CmXQ.

Thus, for one year the total weight of solids transported is


# $%& &

5.3.2 Measurement of Suspended Sediment in a Vertical

The concentration of suspended load not only changes from point to point in a cross-
section but also fluctuates from moment to moment at a fixed point. The kind of sampler
and the technique of sampling used will depend on a large number of factors.
Suspended sediment discharge over an entire cross-section is usually measured by
dividing the cross-section into a number of sections. Sediment discharge passing
through each section is obtained by taking measurements along the vertical within the
portion of the section it represents. It has been shown by field data that the vertical
distribution of sediment concentration for various size groups is quite different.

The suspended sediment concentration as well as the grade of sediment in a flowing

stream increases from top to bottom and it also varies transversely across the section.
The variation depends upon the size and shape of the cross-section, the stage of flow
and other channel characteristics. Hence a preliminary investigation has to be made to
select the sampling points on a vertical and also the number and location of the
sampling verticals, taking into consideration the accuracy desired and the resources

The discharge of sediment load per unit width at a vertical in a cross-section can be
determined either by integrating over the depth the products of the concentration of the
suspended load and the velocity measured simultaneously at each of a number of
points in the vertical as shown in Figure 5.2 or by using an integrating depth sampler
which automatically takes a sample in which the concentration of suspended load is the
mean concentration in motion.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 5.2 Sediment Discharge Computation

Both for measurements and the determination of the point of mean concentration of
sediment, sediment concentration should be determined at several points in a vertical
like 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8 and 0.9 depth (or the lowest practicable point).
There are various methods for selecting sampling points in a vertical. In single point
method, sample is secured at 0.6d , in two point method sample is obtained at two
points 0.2d, 0.8d in a vertical, while in three point method sample is taken at 0.2d, 0.6d
and 0.8d in a vertical. The sediment discharge per unit width in each vertical is
determined either by graphical integration of the product of velocity and sediment
concentration throughout the depth.

Selection of Verticals – As per BIS 4890: 1968 (Reaffirmed 2001), for the
determination of the minimum number of verticals representing the sediment distribution
across the stream, one of the following two procedures should be followed:

a) The section should be divided into as large a number of equally spaced segments as
practicable to be completed in one observation. The mean concentration in motion in
each vertical in the centre of the segment should be obtained and weighted with
respect to the stream discharge in the perspective segment. This will give an
indication of the distribution of sediment in the entire section for the particular stage of

b) The stream section is divided into a large number of segments of approximately

equal discharge and sediment samples are taken at the centroid vertical of each
equal discharge segments. This gives the required sediment distribution across the
stream for the particular stage of flow.

There is no firm relationship between the stage and the location of the point of mean
concentration in motion. Therefore, the above observations shall be made for different
stages of flow.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

It is desirable to have larger frequency of observations on a limited number of verticals

at the high flood stages; and the endeavor should be to ensure measurements at least
once a week during high flood stages and once during the highest floods or during the
occurrence of a flashy spate.

The more frequent the observations the better the overall estimate is likely to be and,
wherever possible, sediment observations should be made as frequently as discharge
observations are made on perennial streams.

TABLE 5.2 Selection of Verticals

SL. No.

25 , 50 & 75 % 17 , 50 & 83 %
1. Less than 30 m 3
of the width of the width

20, 35, 50, 65 10, 30, 50, 70

2. 30 m – 300 m 5 and 80 % of the and 90 % of the
width width

15, 30, 40, 50, 7, 21, 36, 50,

3. Over 300 m 7 60, 70 & 85% 64, 79 & 93%
of the width of the width

5.3.3 Advance Method of Sediment Measurement

Laser In-Situ Scattering and Transmissometry (LISST)

Current practice of SSC (suspended sediment concentration) & PSD (particle size
distribution) observation by Laser diffraction principle is dominated by the LISST series
instruments made by Sequoia Scientific, Inc. of Bellevue, Washington. The LISST-100X
instrument obtains in-situ measurements of particle size distribution, optical
transmission, and the optical volume scattering function (VSF). Using a red 670 nm
diode laser and a custom silicon detector, small-angle scattering from suspended
particles is sensed at 32 specific log-spaced angle ranges.

As laser diffraction does not measure particle density, the reported concentration is in
volume of particles. Particle density spectrum can be measured in a separate

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

instrument LISST-ST that combines laser diffraction with a settling column (Agrawal and
Pottsmith, 2000).

TABLE 5.3 Parameters of Different LISST Instruments

Concentration Operating Humidity Dimension Weight
Range (mg/l) Temp ( 0C) (%) (CmXCmXCm) (Kg)

1 - 750 2.5 - 500 13.5X87 11

0.5 - 700 1 - 500 10.03X63.9 5.4

Portable 30 - 1900 0.35 - 500 17.7x 29x4.3 7

5 - 3000 2 - 380 5 - 45 >80% 60X71X20 15

5 - 30000 2 - 380 5 - 45 >80% 60X71X20 15

Note:-This limit is in mg/l with an assumed mass density of 2.65 g/ml.

FIGURE 5.3 LISST Instrument

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual


The desirable timing and frequency of sampling depends on the runoff characteristics of
the basin.

 For many streams, an average of 70 to 90 per cent of the annual sediment load is
carried down the river during the flood season.

 Suspended sediment should be sampled more frequently during the flood period than
during low flow periods.

 During floods, hourly or even more frequent sampling may be required to define
sediment concentration accurately.

 During the rest of the year sampling frequency can be reduced to daily sampling.

 For watersheds with a wide variety of soil and geological conditions and an uneven
distribution of precipitation, sediment concentration in the stream depends not only on
the flood event in the year, but also on the source of the runoff in the basin. Under
such conditions, no definite sediment measurement schedule can be assigned.

 Besides, the sampling of sediment concentration should be properly timed to check

the temporal variation in sediment.

 In general, the accuracy needed from the sediment data determines how often a
stream should be sampled.

 The greater the required accuracy and the more complicated the flow system, the
more frequently it will be necessary to take measurements.


5.5.1 Determination of Sediment Concentration

Suspended sediment samples obtained in the field must be treated in the laboratory for
the determination of sediment concentration and particle size. As per BIS 6339:2013,
Suspended sediment concentrations may be determined by any of the following

• Evaporation method
• Filtration method
• Hydrometer method
• Central Electricity Authority (CEA) procedure

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

The method is chosen on the basis of the quantity and the composition of sediment in
the sample and the desired accuracy.

 A minimum weight of the sediment in the sample is required, in accordance with the
sensitivity of the weighing apparatus, in order to make it possible to use evaporation
and filtration methods and specific gravity flasks of different capacities in the
displacement method.

 It was found that the filtration method might best be used on samples containing
sand concentrations of less than 10000 mg/l and clay concentrations of less than
200 mg/l.

 The evaporation method is applicable to samples ranging from 0.2 to 20 l in volume,

from 5 to 500000 mg/l in sediment concentration, and having less than 35000 mg/l in
dissolved-solid concentration.

 In addition, the wet sieving method is used if two concentration values are required:
one for sand size particles and one for a combination of silt and clay sized particles.
The sample is separated by a sieve with 0.062 mm square apertures. The coarse
fraction is treated by the evaporation method and the fine part, after splitting, may be
weighed either through filtration or evaporation (ASTM Standard D3977-97).

 In general, sediment concentration is determined by the weight of the dried sediment

contained in the sample, divided by the volume of the sediment-water mixture

 An indirect method, for example, is to take a reading from a physical apparatus,

such as a turbidity meter, to obtain the sediment concentration from a calibration
curve that expresses the relationship between the reading and the sediment

Sediment concentration is expressed in three different ways: Cs represents the weight of

dried sediment contained in a unit volume of sediment-water mixture commonly
expressed in mg/l, g/l or kg m–3 ; CSG represents the weight of dried sediment divided by
the weight of the sediment-water mixture and may be expressed in percentage of
weight (%) or in parts per million (ppm); and CSV represents the volume of sediment
particles contained in a unit volume of the sample, expressed in per cent (%) or as a
ratio. Evaporation Method

 In the evaporation method, the wet sediment sample, after the supernatant liquid is
decanted from the vessel, is transferred to an evaporation dish and dried in an oven

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

at a temperature slightly below the boiling point until the visible moisture is

 The oven temperature is then raised to 105ºC for two hours.

 If the dissolved solids exceed 2 per cent of the sample weight, their concentration
should be determined separately in the original water.

 The content of dissolved solids should be subtracted from the dried sediment weight
in computing the sediment concentration.

 The dry weight of the evaporation dish is usually precisely determined beforehand.
In routine operations, it should be checked to avoid any possible error. Filtration Method

The filtration may be carried out using either filter papers in conical glass funnels or
glass fibre filter disc in Coors or Gooch crucible, or fritted glass or alundum crucibles,
with the application of a vacuum aspirator system to accelerate the passage of the
filtrate. Using filter paper for obtaining sediment concentration is explained below:

 Exclude large floating particles (floating plants, wastes, etc) from the sample if their
inclusion is not desired.

 For better accuracy choose sample volume to yield between 25 mg and 200 mg
dried sediment in the final result.

 Determine the volume of the sample and the total mass of the sample (sediment +
water) plus bottle to the nearest 0.5 g. Record this mass as the gross mass.

 Selection of Filter Paper: Acid-washed, hard finished filter paper sufficiently retentive
for fine particles can be used. However, for a sample which do not contain a
significant quantity of fine particles, Whatman No. 40 or 41 filter paper (average pore
size 2.4 µm and 4.1 µm respectively), which are faster speed filter papers can be
used. While filtering through Whatman No. 40 or 41 filter papers, if the filtrate looks
turbid, indicating fine particles passing through the paper, then Whatman No. 42
should be used. The rate of filtration through Whatman No. 42 filter paper is slow
and hence should not be used for gelatinous sediment & coarse sediment.

 Dry the filter paper overnight in an oven at 101 to 105°C, cool in a desiccator to bring
it to room temperature and weigh quickly (to avoid absorption of moisture from
atmosphere) to the nearest 0.001 g and record it as the tare mass of the filter paper.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 Fit the filter paper into a funnel. To fit it properly moisten it with a little water, press it
down to the sides of the funnel either with the clean forefinger or with a flattened
glass rod. Place the funnel, containing properly fitted filter paper, in a funnel stand or
support it vertically in some other way. Place a clean beaker or other transparent
container below the stem of the funnel to collect the filtrate.

FIGURE 5.4 Filtration

 Allow the sample to stand undisturbed for a considerable period of time and then
pour the top portion of the water sediment mixture into the funnel, allowing the water
to percolate.

 Slowly pour most of the water part of the sample onto the filter paper. Allow the
water to percolate normally.

 After the water has passed through the filter paper, wash the sediment adhering to
the inside of the sample bottle onto the filter paper by means of a jet of distilled (or
deionized) water, from a wash bottle. If necessary, loosen the firmly adhered
sediment by means of a rubber-tipped glass rod.

 Weigh the empty sample bottle after drying, and record it as the tare mass.

 To remove balance dissolved salt, if any, wash the contents on the filter paper with
small portions of gravity fed deionized or distilled water from a wash bottle. Direct
the water jet as near the top of the filter paper as possible and then gradually
towards vertex of the cone. Let each portion of the wash water run through before
adding the next. Continue washing until about 5 ml of the wash water gives no
opalescence with a drop or two silver nitrate solution.

 After all the water has passed through the filter paper, fold and place the paper in a
dry evaporating dish. Dry the contents of the evaporating dish on a steam-bath or in

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

a drying oven at about 85-95°C until all visible water is lost, then heat to 101 to
105°C in an oven for overnight.

 Remove the evaporating dish and its contents from the oven and place in a
desiccator to cool to room temperature.

 Weigh quickly the filter paper with dried sediment to the nearest 0.001 g taking care
that no sediment particle is lost from the filter paper while taking it out of the
evaporating dish and weighing. Record this as gross mass of the filter paper plus
dried sediment.

 For blank correction, fit another identical size dried and weighed (initial mass) filter
paper in a funnel. Pass the same volume of distilled water (as that of the sample
volume) through it. Dry the filter paper overnight at 101 to 105°C, cool in a
desiccator and weigh. Calculate any loss in mass of the filter paper due to the
passing of water through it from its initial mass minus final mass. Add the loss in
mass as blank correction.

 Calculate the concentration of suspended sediment, determining the concentration

in relation to the mass, or the volume, of the suspension, from the formula:


or ((m4-m3)+(m5-m6))/V (5.3)


m1 = tare mass of the bottle, in g;

m2 = gross mass of the bottle plus sample, in g;

m3 = tare mass of the dry filter paper used to filter the sample, in g;

m4 = gross mass of the filter paper with dried sediment, in g;

m5 = initial mass of the dry filter paper used for blank correction purpose, in g;

m6 = final mass of the dried filter paper used for blank correction purpose, in g; and

V = volume of the sample, in cm3.

Express the result in the appropriate unit.

This method takes about 24 hours for measurement of sediment concentration.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Hydrometer Method

If the sediment concentration is high, the total suspended load can be measured with
sufficient accuracy by using a hydrometer. The main advantage of this method is

After determining the mass and volume of the sample, vigorously stir it for a few
seconds in the original container using a ‘figure-of-eight’ motion in order to obtain a
homogeneous mixture. Introduce the hydrometer into the mixed sample immediately
after stopping stirring and take the reading as soon as possible. The time after which
the reading should be taken depends on the temperature of the mixed sample.

FIGURE 5.5 Hydrometer

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

TABLE 5.4 Time after which Hydrometer Readings are to be taken in Relation to
Temperature of the Sample

Sl No Temperature (°C) Time (s)

1 2 153

2 6-10 146

3 11-15 127

4 16-20 112

5 21-25 102

6 26-30 92

7 31-35 84

8 36-40 77

9 41-45 70

10 46-50 64

The depth to which the hydrometer is immersed gives the density of the sediment
mixture, including dissolved materials. Before taking hydrometric readings, the
hydrometer should be pushed gently down by about 1 mm or 2 mm. From the mass and
volume of the sample, the total concentration of suspended load and dissolved matter
can be computed from the density read on the hydrometer and allowed to return slowly
to the equilibrium position. The quantity of the total sediment in suspension plus
dissolved material, in grams per litre, is given by the formula:

CF + Cd = (R' – R) × K (5.4)


CF = suspended sediment concentration, in g/litre;

Cd = concentration of dissolved matter, in g/litre;

R' = hydrometric reading of the sample;

R = hydrometric reading of distilled water at the same temperature, obtained from

the calibration chart; and

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

K = hydrometer factor for converting the readings to gram per litre which can be
determined with a salt solution of known concentration. CEA Procedure

While giving Techno-economic clearances for some projects, CEA has prescribed the
method for quick assessment of sediment concentration, which is quoted as below:

“The hydro power station may employ quick methods for determination of silt
concentration in water. One simple method for measurement of silt concentration in
the river water is to weigh silted water of a given volume and compare with
relatively silt free water of same volume and correlation may be established
between the difference in weight and silt concentration. With this, approximate silt
concentration will be ascertained quickly and decision may be taken for shut down
of power house if silt level exceeds the permissible limit.”


5.6.1 Particle Size Analysis of Suspended Sediment

As per IS 6339: 2013, for the analysis of particle size, suspended sediment is classified
in terms of sedimentation diameter as follows:

a) Coarse sediment, comprising particles of diameter greater than 0.25 mm;

b) Medium sediment, comprising particles of diameter between 0.062 mm to 0.25 mm;


c) Fine sediment, comprising particles of diameter less than 0.062 mm.

Principal of particle size analysis is washing the sample (or dry sieving, in the case of a
dry sample) through a 0.50 mm mesh sieve. Analyse the portion retained on the sieve
by drying and sieving through a further series of sieves. Then, analysis of the material
passing through the sieve is done by appropriate techniques.

As per IS 6339: 2013, the coarser particles of suspended sediment (diameter greater
than 0.25 mm) and the coarser particles of bed load and bed material (diameter greater
than 0.5 mm) are analysed by sieving and all the finer material (<0.25 mm) by
sedimentation techniques. Material may be sieved either wet or dry.

A set of sieves with square mesh openings, the sizes of which vary in a consistent
manner, is normally used. Sieving should be continued for a minimum period of 10 min
or until less than 0.2 percent of the sample passes through the mesh in any 5 min
sieving period. The sieving operation is carried out in 5 min stages, at the end of which

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

the sieves are emptied and brushed in order to reduce the blocking of the apertures.
The sediment fraction retained on each sieve should be carefully collected in containers
and the mass of each fraction determined and recorded. Sieving is probably the easiest
and most popular method of size analysis. Routinely this method is being used to
determine particle size distribution of sample (more than 0.25 mm size).

FIGURE 5.6 Drying Oven & A Set of Sieves Estimation of Coarse Sediment

 Collect a sufficient volume of sample (normally 5 litre) for analysis and determine its
mass and volume.

 Pass the entire sample, including water and sediment, through a sieve of aperture
size 250 µm into a container of suitable size.

 Wash the original sample container with distilled water to ensure complete removal
of sediment.

 Wash the sediment retained on the sieve thoroughly by means of a jet of distilled
water until all the particles of medium and fine sediments have been washed through
the sieve and into the container.

 Wash and dry the particles retained on the sieve and weigh. Determine the
concentration, in gram per litre.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual Estimation of Medium Sediment

Add gravity fed deionised or distilled water to the sediment collected in the container to
make up the depth to 10 cm. Stir for a few seconds using a ‘figure-of-eight’ motion and
allow to stand for the required time according to the temperature of the water as per
Table 5.5.

TABLE 5.5 Time Taken for Particles of Diameter Greater than 0.062 mm to Fall
Through 10 cm Column of Water at Different Temperatures

Sl No Temperature (°C) Time (s)

1 2 45

2 6-10 40

3 11-15 35

4 16-20 31

5 21-25 27

6 26-30 24

7 31-35 21

8 36-40 19

9 41-45 17

10 46-50 15

NOTE:- This table is not applicable for samples containing light porous
material or heavy mineral particles.

Pour the supernatant water into a covered container. Repeat this process of separation
of sediment by decantation of supernatant liquid followed by filling the container up to
the specified height with clear water until the supernatant water is completely clear. Dry
the sediment, which has settled in the beaker, after the final washing and decantation
process, in an oven and weigh. Determine the concentration in gram per litre. Estimation of Fine Sediment

Calculate the estimated fine sediment and dissolved mater content, Cf , in g/ litre, from
the formula:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Cf = Ct – (Cc + Cm) (5.5)


Ct = estimated total sediment concentration, per litre,

Cc = estimated coarse sediment concentration, per litre; and

Cm = estimated medium sediment concentration, per litre,


The bed load, composed mainly of coarser particles, has important effects on the fluvial
process, even though its quantity may be not as large as that of the suspended load.
Bed load movement is quite uneven in both the transverse and longitudinal direction
and fluctuates considerably.

In practice, it is more difficult to measure the bed load discharge accurately than it is to
measure suspended load. Research into the improvement of sampling techniques is

In Total load, portion of Bed load generally remains <25% of Suspended sediment load.

The direct method measures the bed load discharge by taking samples directly from the
stream with a properly designed sampler. Apparatuses or samplers used in the direct
method may be classified into the basket-type, pressure-difference-type, pan-type and
pit-type categories. The weight of the sample taken by these samplers in a specific time
interval represents the bed load discharge over the width of the sampler.


A Comprehensive List of Laboratory Equipment, other materials and stationery required

for a full scale Sediment Test Laboratory is given below in Table-5.6

TABLE 5.6 List of Equipment for Silt Lab

Sl.No. Item Quantity

Balance Table, Silt Samples,
Analysis Table, Whatnot,
1 Furniture for the Laboratory
Almira low & high too office
table, chairs etc. as required.
2 Stop Watch 2 nos.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

3 Enakelled bucket 10 ltr. Capacity with lid (if 4

12 nos.
nos. samples collected in a day)
4 Wooden filter stand (2 way) 3 nos.
5 Filter paper (Whatman No.1 sheet) (sufficient say a big box)
6 Rubber tube (1/4” dia) 1 roll (10mt)
7 Pinch clip 6 nos.
8 Tray (12x8 approximately) 1 no.
9 Polythene bowel with stand (Std.size) 1 no.
10 Towel As required
11 Duster As required
12 Scissors 1 no.
13 Calculators 1 no.
14 4-burner stove 2 nos.
15 Extra burner & ring of the above stove As required
16 Kerosen Oil As required
17 Tong 3 nos.

18 Air oven (good quality)

1 no.
2 seleve 1’4”X1’4” x 1’4 ½”
19 Destilled water plant (run by 4-burner stove)
1 no.
yielding cap.10/12 ltr/day
20 Jar (Porcelain) 2/2 ½ Gallon capl (for storing
1 or 2 no.
destilled water)
Glass funnel :
21 14 cm dia approx. 4 nos.
12 cm dia approx 4 nos.
9 cm dia approx. 4 nos.
22 Glass tube (1/4 “ dia) 2 ½ kg.
23 Glass rod 1 ¼ long 4 nos.
Glass beaker :
24 1 ltd cap. 6 nos.
500 cc cap. 6 nos.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

100 cc cap. 6 nos.

50 cc cap. 6 nos.
25 Litre bottle (Glass) accurate marking (1 ltr) 2 no.
26 Glass cylinder 250cc, graduated 12 nos.
27 Descicator with Poreclain bridge 28 cm 2 no.
28 Jest tube 10.5 cm approx. marked at 10 cc 12 nos.
29 Pipette : Graduate .5 ml marked at 3 no.
.1 ml and .2 ml 3 no.
30 Pipette (Bulb) cap.50 cc 3 no.

31 Polythene wash bottle with mouth fittings (500 3 no.

ml. Capacity)
32 Bottle Brush (Long handle) 3 no.

33 Basin (Porcelain or Sillica) 8.5 cm dia 2 doz.

34 Thermometer (0° to 110° c) 3 no.

35 Wooden test tube stand (12 holes) 2 no

36 Wooden pipette Stand (for 12 Pippets) 1 no.

37 Calcium chloride 500mg each bottle 6 bottles

38 Lovibond Comparetor (Jincometer Ltd, 1 no.

Salisburg, London) or any good concern of
India, if available.
39 Lovibond Disc (of the above concern) :
a. Universal Indicator (PH 4.0 to 11.0) 1 no.
b. Bromothymol Blue (PH 6.0 to 7.6) 1 no
c. Phenol Red (with brightness Screen) 1 no.
(6.8 – 8.4)
d. Boromocresol Purple (PH 7.0 – 8.6)
1 no.
e. Phenol Purple (PH 7.0 – 8.6)
1 no.
40 Indicator solution of the above (item no.39) A 5 bottles
to E, 500ml, each bottle of different indicator
solution (BDH)
41 Stationery goods Bound Register, white paper,
scale pin cushion, pad, pen,
pen rubber, glass pencil etc..

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

42 Chemical balance (good Quality) with weight 1 no.

box and rider, weighing capacity 100 gm to
downwards (up to the 4th place of decimal)
43 Sediment Sampler 6 no.
Cork, Cork box etc.


Sediment monitoring and management is continuously being done in NHPC Power

stations to determine the sediment load and concentration at different locations of the
project which helps to tackle the sediment related problems and in maintaining the live
capacity of the projects. In NHPC Power Stations, regular suspended sediment
observations are done at following locations:

 Tail end of reservoir

 In front of intake
 Draft tube /Tail Race Outfall
 Silt Flushing Tunnel Outfall (if any)

The suspended sediment observations are done daily during non-flood season and
hourly during flood season. The suspended sediment is analyzed for coarse (particle
size varying from 0.25 mm to 0.35mm, 0.35mm to 0.5mm and 0.5mm and above),
medium (particle size varying from 0.062mm to 0.25mm) and fine (particle size varying
from 0.062mm dia and below) fractions.

Such comprehensive network for sediment data observation and monitoring helps in
estimating the sediment load entering the reservoir, efficiency of desilting basins and
establishing the sediment mass balance relationship.

To protect the economic and useful life of the reservoirs, sediment management in
NHPC power stations is done by combination of “drawdown sluicing” and “reservoir
flushing” i.e. by depleting as well as keeping reservoir level near MDDL in the monsoon
months for removal of deposited sediment in the reservoir so as to maintain the useful
life of reservoir. Reservoir flushing guidelines have been formulated for each power
station (where flushing is proposed) which allows minimum four/ five number of
drawdown flushing during the monsoon. During flushing, the reservoir area takes the
form of a pseudo- river and the following observations are taken to assess the
effectiveness of flushing operations:

 Hourly reservoir levels at dam.

 Hourly silt concentration at upstream and downstream of Dam.
 Hourly discharge passing through the spillway.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

 Gate opening of all the spillway gates on hourly basis.

 Reservoir Cross-sections at the end of monsoon at specified locations.


The suspended sediment data observed may be recorded in the following formats given
as Annexure-5.A & 5.B and should be sent regularly on monthly basis to Hydrology
Section, Design & Engineering Division for further dissemination and archive of the


1. IS code – 3913:2013 Functional Requirements And Characteristics Of

Suspended-Sediment Samplers

2. IS code - 3917:2003 Scoop Type Bed load Sampler

3. IS code – 4890:1968 (Reaffirmed 2001) Methods of Measurement of Suspended

Sediment in Open Channel

4. IS code – 6339:2013 Sediment in Streams and Canals – Determination of

Concentration, Particle Size Distribution and Relative Density

5. IS code - 15360:2003 Bed Material Sampling

6. WMO No. 948 – 2003 Manual on Sediment Management and Measurement.

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual


River & Site:--- Mode of Sampling:---- Time:--- Month & Year:--
Suspended Sediment Conc. (gm/lit.)
Water Room Coarse Total Silt
Date Temp Temp conc.
(Cumec) Medium Fine
(oC) (oC) > 0.5 0.35 to 0.25 to
Total (gm/l)
mm 0.5 mm 0.35 mm
----- --- --- ---- ------ ------ ----- ----- ----- ----- -------

Signature of (Sup./JE/AE)
Signature of (AM/DM/Mgr.)

IMS/DED/F-04 Issued By: Approved

REV NO. 00 (DDC) By:
Eff (HOD)
Date:24.07.2014 Date:24.07.2014

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual


RESERVOIR FLUSHING DETAILS W.E.F………………………….(Date &Time) TO…………………………….(Date & Time)

Sediment concentration (ppm)
Reservoir Discharge Discharge passing (cumec)
Date Time (PPM) Remarks
level(m) (Cumec)
Upstream Downstream SG-I SG-II SG-III SG-IV

1) Time at which reservoir flushing and subsequently filling started :
2) Max. silt concentration during flushing :
3) Max. discharge observed during flushing :
4) Average discharge during flushing :
5) Inflow at the start of flushing :
6) Inflow at the end of flushing :
7) Time at which all spillway gates were closed and reservoir filling started :
8) Minimum reservoir level attained during flushing :

Signature of (Sup./JE/AE)

Signature of (AM/DM/Mgr.)

IMS/DED/F-06 Issued By: Approved By:

REV NO. 00 (DDC) (HOD)
Eff Date:24.07.2014

Date:24.07.2011 Date:

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual



On a global basis, floods have the greatest damage potential of all natural disasters
worldwide and affect the greatest number of people. The majority of the deaths
associated with flood disasters can be either avoided or the number of fatality fall can
be dramatically reduced through flood forecasting, warning systems and response


Flood forecasting is the use of real-time precipitation and streamflow data in rainfall-
runoff and streamflow routing models to forecast flow rates and water levels for periods
ranging from a few hours to days ahead, depending on the size of the watershed or
river basin. Flood Forecasting has been recognized as the most important, reliable and
cost effective non-structural measures for flood mitigation. Real time flood forecasting
can help in optimizing the reservoir regulation operations and maximizing flood
moderation (if required) without unduly compromising power production during
monsoon. Warning of the approaching floods provides sufficient time for the authorities:

i) to make an intense patrolling of the flood protection works such as embankments so

as to save them from breaches, failures, etc.

ii) to regulate the floods through the barrages and reservoirs, so that the safety of these
structures can be taken care of against the higher return period floods.

iii) to operate the multi-purpose reservoirs in such a way that an encroachment into the
power and water conservation storage can be made to control the incoming flood.

iv) to evacuate the affected people to the safer places,

v) to make an intense patrolling of the flood protection works such as embankments so

as to save them from breaches, failures, etc.

Accurate and timely flood forecasts and advance warning have, therefore, to be aimed
for providing valuable time to the people and to civil authorities in taking preventive

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

measures like evacuation, relief and rehabilitation measures, preparedness for flood
fighting by engineering authorities etc. and thus mitigating such loses from floods.


Basically gauge/discharge and or rainfall data are required for flood forecasting
purposes. The number of reporting stations depends upon hydrologic need and
availability of observers and communications. The number of raingauge stations in the
basin should be such that:

a) The areal rainfall in the catchment can be estimated with the desired accuracy

b) The variation in the areal distribution as well as time distribution can be identified

For network design of river gauges, the following points should be kept in mind:

a) Wherever the forecast is being issued on the basis of gauge correlation, the base
station and forecasting station must be equipped with gauges.

b) In case more than one tributary are joining the main stream, there should be at
least one gauge on each of the tributaries. The location of gauges on the
tributaries should be such that the time of the travel from base station to
forecasting station in respect of tributaries as well as main stream is constant.

c) Where the routing model forms the basis of formulation of forecast, the reach has to
be divided into various sub-reaches. For each sub reach, in addition to the gauge
reading, discharge observation should also be carried out.

Apart from gauge/discharge and/or rainfall data interception, evaporation,

evapotranspiration, interflow, infiltration, ground water and percolation are used as
inputs to several conceptual models. However it is preferred that structure of the model
should be simple and it should not have excessive input requirements, but at the same
time the forecasted flood must be as accurate as possible.


The “National Flood Forecasting and Warning Network” of Central Water Commission
comprises of several flood forecasting sites. Methods for formulation of forecast depend
upon availability of data at the time of framing of forecast, physiographic characteristics
of the watershed, warning time available, facilities/ infrastructure available and purpose
of forecast. More Self Recording Rain Gauges (SRRG) with auto- transmission
capability in the catchment together with strategic gauging stations along the river and

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

at reservoirs would enhance the capability for accurate real time forecasts. Real time
rainfall related forecasts constitute the key to successful reservoir operations for flood
control. Flood Meteorological Office (FMO) of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD)
provides Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) with a lead time of about 24 hrs to
CWC which in turn translate QPF in Flood forecasting/warning. The data received from
the site at the divisional headquarters through wireless, telemetry, telephone etc. is
scrutinized and processed.

In order to meet the requirement of real-time data collection, automatic data

transmission and flood forecast formulation, expeditious data / information
dissemination, the Central Water Commission has undertaken modernization of its data
collection and flood forecast network. At present, CWC is entrusted with monitoring of
flood situation in the country during monsoon by observing water levels/ discharges
along the major rivers in the country and issuing flood forecasts to the local
administration/ project authorities/ State Governments and the Home Ministry, G/o
India; covering low lying area/ cities and towns besides reservoirs all over the country.

The network is spread on ten major river systems viz. the Ganga & its tributaries, the
Indus/ Jhelum, the Brahmaputra & its tributaries, the Barak, the Eastern Rivers, the
Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna and the West flowing rivers covering 72 river sub-
basins, over 17 states viz. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat,
Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra,
Orissa, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh & West Bengal, one Union
Territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The flood forecasting and advance warning low lying areas/ towns and reservoirs help
the user agencies in deciding mitigating measures like evacuation of people and shifting
their movable property to safer locations. The Inflow Forecasts at reservoirs are used by
the dam authorities in timely operation of reservoir gates for safe flood discharges
downstream as well as to ensure adequate storage in the reservoirs for meeting
irrigation and hydropower generation demands during non-monsoon period. Such
services are normally available during flood period from 1st May/1st June to 31st
October/31st December every year. The forecast are disseminated using all types of
communication means such as fax, wireless, phone, mob, SMS, email, electronic
media, print media, social media, website, etc. Annually, over 6000 flood forecasts and
advance warnings are issued by CWC regional offices across the country to the user
agencies during floods. The overall accuracy of forecasts issued by CWC over the past
years is around 97%. (Source :

Two kinds of forecasts are issued based on the utility of the forecast. Inflow forecasts
assist in reservoir regulation (full reservoir level & maximum water level) and the level

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

forecast is used for predicting water level (warning level & danger level) well ahead of
its occurrence at a particular place/point on the river.

The Central Water Commission has categorized various flood situations, for monitoring
the floods in the country though its flood forecasting network, into four different
categories namely low, moderate, high & unprecedented, depending upon the river
water level with reference to warning level, danger level, and highest flood level.

(i) Low Flood: The river is said to be in “LOW FLOOD” situation at any flood
forecasting sites when the water level of the river touches or crosses the warning
level, but remains below the danger level of the forecasting site. Yellow colour has
been assigned to this category.

(ii) Moderate Flood: If the water level of the river touches or crosses its danger level,
but remains 0.50 m below the Highest Flood Level of the site (commonly known as
“HFL”) then the flood situation is called the “Moderate Flood” situation. Pink colour
has been assigned to this category.

(iii) High Flood: If the water level of the river at the forecasting site is below the Highest
Flood Level of the forecasting site but still within 0.50m of the HFL then the flood
situation is called “High Flood” situation. Orange colour has been assigned to this
category. In “High Flood Situations” a special “Orange Bulletin” is being issued by
the Central Water Commission to the users agencies which contains the “special
flood message” related to the high flood.

(iv) Unprecedented Flood : The flood situation is said to be “Unprecedented” when the
water level of the river touches or crosses the “Highest Flood Level” recorded at any
forecasting site so far. Red colour has been assigned to this category. In
“Unprecedented Flood Situations” a special “Red Bulletin” is being issued by the
Central Water Commission to the users agencies which contains the “special flood
message” related to the unprecedented flood.

These colours will be dynamically changing for Flood Level Forecast Stations as per the
river water level with respect to Warning Level (WL), Danger Level (DL), Highest Flood
Level (HFL). Normally latest dynamic information is available during flood period 1st
May/1st June to 31st October/31st December every year.

meteorological Observation Manual

FIGURE 6.1 Category of Floods

Websites & http://www.india for Central
Water Commission’s Flood Monitoring and Forecast dissemination can be explored
using map based exploration or list based exploration or Hydrograph View. Map can be
used as a tool to find information of 221 CWC Flood Forecasting Station consisting of
166 Level Forecasting
orecasting Stations for towns/important villages and 55 Inflow Forecasting
Stations for Dams/Reservoirs. List Based exploration or Hydrograph view should be
used for information of all flood monitoring stations around 700 including Flood
Forecasting Stations.
ns. The Colour of any point signifies the basic Characteristics of the
Station. Green is for Flood Level Forecast Station basically important towns/villages and
Blue is for Inflow Forecast station basically a dam/reservoir/barrage/weir etc.

Forecasting Schedule

Major rivers (Travel time >24 hours)

Forecasts are being formulated based on 0800 hrs/ 0900 hrs water level data and
issued once in a day at 1000 hrs with advance warning time from 24 hrs to 36 hrs

Medium rivers (Travel time 12

12-24 hours)

Forecasts are
e being formulated based on 0600 hrs and 1800 hrs water level data and
issued twice in a day at 0700 hrs and 1900 hrs with advance warning time from 12 hrs
to 24 hrs

Flashy rivers (Travel time < 12 hours)

Hydro-meteorological Observation Manual

Forecasts are being formulated based on any main hr water level data and issued
multiple times (more than twice) in a day with advance warning time less than 12 hrs.

This facility can be used at all the power stations of NHPC for real time flood
forecasting by following website for their respect
rivers /project location sites. Collaboration with Central water commission in this
regard shall also be helpful in long run.


The effectiveness of real time flood forecasting systems in reducing flood damage
would depend upon how accurately the estimation of future stages or flow of incoming
flood and its time sequence at selected points along the river, could be predicted. The
rivers of alluvial plain exhibit the meandering, shifting of the course and unstable cross
sections due to the problem of sediment transport. These hydraulic changes in the river
behavior complicate the issue of adopting the suitable measures for flood management.
The magnitude and severity of the floods, caused by excessive rainfall in the river
catchments, depend upon the nature and extent of rainfall and the characteristics of the
specific watersheds. For example, intense and shorter duration rainfall or cloud burst in
small steep catchments or in hilly catchments (having basin area < 1200 km2 and time
of peak < 6 hours) results in flash floods of shorter time periods, whereas the heavy
rainfall of longer duration in the large catchments may generate the floods which sustain
for longer periods. Suitable real time flood forecasting techniques are required to
forecast such floods. The lead time available for flash flood forecasts are very small.