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The stream stage (height) and streamflow (discharge) relation

Detailed Description

An example of a stage-discharge relation is shown in the diagram. The stage-discharge relation depends upon the shape, size, slope, and roughness of the channel at the streamgage and is different for every streamgage.

The development of an accurate stage-discharge relation requires numerous discharge measurements at all ranges of stage and streamflow. In addition, these relations must be continually checked against on-going discharge measurements because stream channels are constantly changing. Changes in stream channels are often caused by erosion or deposition of streambed materials, seasonal vegetation growth, debris, or ice. An example of how erosion in a stream channel increases a cross-sectional area for the water, allowing the river to have a greater discharge with no change in stage, is shown in the diagram below. New discharge measurements plotted on an existing stage-discharge relation graph would show this, and the rating could be adjusted to allow the correct discharge to be estimated for the measured stage.

Find out how streamflow is measured.


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