The NRCS curve number equation derived from an instantaneous unit hydrograph: Some consequences

Klaas Metselaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The NCRS-curve number equation allows calculating the storm runoff from a rainfall event for specific types of land use. It was based on an analysis of direct runoff data using baseflow corrected hydrographs and rainfall. Given this basis, the curve number equation can be derived assuming a constant effective rainfall intensity and a cubic reciprocal function as the instantaneous unit hydrograph. The instantaneous unit hydrograph and the resulting curve number equation are further generalized by adding a lag time. The equation for a curve number related hydrograph is presented, allowing to fit this curve number-based hydrograph to event data. The curve number itself is shown be a function of a catchment response time and the average event rainfall intensity. As the catchment response time is linked to the time of concentration the curve number equation and the storage index can be linked to catchment- and flow type characteristics. First results suggest that including the rainfall intensity duration frequency function in the curve number equation may explain systematic deviations observed when fitting the NCRS curve number equation to measured data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100151
JournalJournal of Hydrology X
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • Bias
  • Complacent
  • Linear reservoir
  • Rainfall-runoff
  • S-curve
  • Violent


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