Nonstationary statistical approach for designing LNWLs in inland waterways: a case study in the downstream of the Lancang River

  • Jiangyan Zhao
  • Ping XieEmail author
  • Mingyang Zhang
  • Yan-Fang SangEmail author
  • Jie Chen
  • Ziyi Wu
Original Paper


Conventional methods to design the lowest navigable water level (LNWL) in inland waterways are usually based on stationary time series. However, these methods are not applicable when nonstationarity is encountered, and new methods should be developed for designing the LNWL under nonstationary conditions. Accordingly, this article proposes an approach to design the LNWL in nonstationary conditions, with a case study at the Yunjinghong station in the Lancang River basin in Southwest China. Both deterministic (trends, jumps and periodicities) and stochastic components in the hydrological time series are considered and distinguished, and the rank version of the von Neumann’s ratio (RVN) test is used to detect the stationarity of observed data and its residue after the deterministic components are removed. The stationary water level series under different environments are then generated by adding the corresponding deterministic component to the stationary stochastic component. The LNWL at the Yunjinghong station was estimated by this method using the synthetic duration curve. The results showed that the annual water level series at the Yunjinghong station presented a significant jump in 2004 with an average magnitude decline of − 0.63 m afterwards. Furthermore, the difference of the LNWL at certain guaranteed rate (90%, 95% and 98%) was nearly − 0.63 m between the current and past environments, while the estimated LNWL under the current environment had a difference of − 0.60 m depending on nonstationarity impacts. Overall, the results clearly confirmed the influence of hydrological nonstationarity on the estimation of LNWL, which should be carefully considered and evaluated for channel planning and design, as well as for navigation risk assessment.


Lowest navigable water level Inland waterways Synthetic duration curve Hydrological nonstationarity Lancang River 



The authors gratefully acknowledged the valuable hydrological data and information provided by the Hydrology Bureau of Yunnan Province. This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51579181, 91547205, 91647110, 51779176), and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS (No. 2017074).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering ScienceWuhan UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Collaborative Innovation Center for Territorial Sovereignty and Maritime RightsWuhanChina
  3. 3.Intelligent Transportation Systems Research CenterWuhan University of TechnologyWuhanChina
  4. 4.National Engineering Research Center for Water Transport SafetyWuhan University of TechnologyWuhanChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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