Hydrological Drought Investigation of Armand River Using Low Flows Analysis

Document Type : Complete scientific research article


1 Master of Watershed Management, Environment and Natural Resources faculty, Behbahan Khatam Alanbia University of Technology, Behbahan, Iran

2 Range and Watershed Management department, Environment and Natural Resources faculty, Behbahan Khatam Alanbia University of Technology, Behbahan, Iran

3 Hydrology department, Water Science faculty, Shahid Chamran University of Ahwaz, Ahwaz, Iran


Background and objectives: Monitoring and evaluation of hydrological drought has become a necessity due to its frequent occurrence in various basins of Iran, and in order to prevent and manage the resulting crisis. In most studies, drought indices have been used to investigate it. Drought indices like Streamflow Drought Index, using statistical calculations on river flow data, ultimately leads to a number that does not have the ability to completely investigate and analyze drought in the studied area. Low flow or minimum river flow is one of the most important drought indices that using different criteria can get a comprehensive understanding of the hydrological drought situation in the region. In most studies, deficit characteristics or low flow frequency analysis have been used. Using different low flow indices is necessary to recognize different aspects of drought and its management. Therefore, the aim of this research was to study hydrological drought of Armand river using all of the low flow indices including flow duration curve, deficit characteristics, low flow frequency analysis and base flow index, which can be used to determine characteristics such as dry and wet periods, amount of flow during drought, drought threshold, duration of drought, volume and intensity deficit and frequency of low flows. Also, in this study, the environmental flow of river was calculated and analyzed.
Materials and methods: The Armand River basin with 9961 Km2 area located in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province was selected as the study area and the daily flow statistics of the Armand hydrometric station were used from 1957 to 2013. First, by plotting the flow duration curve, three low flow indices Q70, Q90 and Q95 also, the river status including wet, normal and drought periods was determined. Then, the minimum environmental flow was calculated based on the two indices Q75 and Q90, and the deficit characteristics using the threshold level Q70. In order to estimate the return period of low flow series (AM7), a suitable two-parameter gamma distribution function was considered appropriate. Finally, the base flow index was calculated using recursive digital filter method in different time scales.
Results: Based on the results, the Armand River in 28, 22 and 14 years (from 57 years of statistical period) has a flow of less than Q70, Q90 and Q95, respectively (45, 32 and 27 m3/s). Due to the gentle slope of the flow duration curve of basin, also the high value of the BFI index (0.95), it was concluded that groundwater had a high participation in the river flow. The dry period in this river begins when the flow reaches less than 45 m3/s (the threshold level Q70). The results showed that the deficit volume and intensity increased over the past 50 years. Based on the frequency analysis of low flow, in the return periods of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 years, the low flow was 34.26, 26.8, 23.1, 21.1, 19.1 and 17 m3/s. Comparison of these values with the minimum environmental flow showed that the river flow becomes less than its minimum environmental flow on average every two years.
Conclusion: Despite the sustained flow in the Armand River (due to the snow-rainy regime of the region, the ability of the basin to save water and drain it during the dry season), the dry periods with different intensities occurred over the past 57 years. Also, the severity of drought has increased due to the increase in the volume deficit of the river in recent years, and if this continues in the future, the severity and frequency of the drought occurrence will increase and the overall flow of the river will decrease.


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