Modeling Earth Systems and Environment

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 1491–1502 | Cite as

Geo-hydrological analysis and sub watershed prioritization for flash flood risk using weighted sum model and Snyder’s synthetic unit hydrograph

Original Article


The present study demonstrates the usefulness of remote sensing data for analyzing the flash flood risk in Uhl River watershed situated in the western Lesser Himalayan region. This is one of the most vulnerable flash flood watersheds in Himachal Pradesh which, suffers heavy damages to man-made features almost every year. In this study different morphometric properties that direct the hydrological response and pertinent to flash flood risk of the watershed have been used to prioritize the sub-watersheds using weighted sum analysis (WSA) model. The result indicates that 12.83 and 16.94 percent of the total area come under very high and high flash flood risk respectively. In addition, the Snyder’s synthetic unit hydrograph method was employed to assess the hydrological behavior and prioritization of sub-basins which shows that sub-basins falling under very high and high-risk group have low lag time and high peak discharge per unit of watershed area. This study concludes Watershed 7 and 8 of Uhl River basin in Himachal Pradesh comes under high priority class and is vulnerable to flash floods.


Cartosat-1 digital elevation model Weighted sum analysis Snyder synthetic unit hydrograph Flash flood Watershed prioritization Himachal Pradesh 



We are thankful to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India for providing fund and supporting this work. We are thankful to Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for providing Cartosat-1 Digital Elevation Model (CartoDEM) data. We also extend our thanks to Forest survey of India for providing forest cover map of the study area.


  1. Activity Report (2007–2011) Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (HP SDMA)Google Scholar
  2. Aher P, Adinarayana J, Gorantiwar S (2014) Quantification of morphometric characterization and prioritization for management planning in semi-arid tropics of India: a remote sensing and GIS approach. J Hydrol 511:850–860CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ahmed MY, Pradhan B, Hassan AH (2011) Flash flood risk estimation along the St. Katherine road, southern Sinai, Egypt using GIS based morphometry and satellite imagery. Environ Earth Sci 62(3):611–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Angillieri MYE (2008) Morphometric analysis of Colanguil river basin and flash flood hazard, San Juan, Argentina. Environ Geol 55(1):107–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arun PS, Jana R, Nathawat MS (2005) A rule based physiographic characterization of a drought prone watershed applying remote sensing and GIS. J Indian Soc Remote Sens 33(2):189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bajabaa S, Masoud M, Al-Amri N (2014) Flash flood hazard mapping based on quantitative hydrology, geomorphology and GIS techniques (case study of Wadi Al Lith, Saudi Arabia). Arabian J Geosci 7(6):2469–2481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bloschl G (2008) Interactive comment on “A look at the links between drainage density and flood statistics” by B. Pallard et al. Hydrol. Earth Syst Sci Discuss 5:S2108–S2111Google Scholar
  8. Chandniha SK, Kansal ML (2017) Prioritization of sub-watersheds based on morphometric analysis using geospatial technique in Piperiya watershed, India. Appl Water Sci 7(1):329–338. doi: 10.1007/s13201-014-0248-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dimri AP, Chevuturi A, Niyogi D, Thayyen RJ, Ray K, Tripathi SN, Pandey AK, Mohanty UC (2017) Cloudbursts in Indian Himalayas: a review. Earth-Science ReviewsGoogle Scholar
  10. District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Mandi (2012) The Government of India–UNDP disaster risk reduction (DRR) Programme (2009–12)Google Scholar
  11. Fairfield J, Leymarie P (1991) Drainage networks from grid digital elevation models. Water Resour Res 30(6):1681–1692Google Scholar
  12. Gardener JS (2010) Natural hazards risk in the Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh, India. Geogr Rev 92(2):282–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gardiner V, Gregory KJ (1982) Drainage density in rainfall-runoff modelling. In: Singh VP (ed) Rainfall-runoff relationships. Water Resources Publications, LittletonGoogle Scholar
  14. Ghoneim E, Foody GM (2013) Assessing flash flood hazard in an arid mountainous region. Arab J Geosci 6(4):1191–1202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Greenlee DD (1987) Raster and vector processing for scanned linework. Photogramm Eng Remote Sens 53(10):1383–1387Google Scholar
  16. Groundwater information booklet Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh (2013) Central ground water board northern Himalayan region Dharamshala September, 2013Google Scholar
  17. Hewitt K (1982) Natural dams and outburst floods of the Karakoram Himalaya. In: Proceedings of the Exeter symposium IAHS Publ. 138Google Scholar
  18. Hewitt K (1993) Torrential rains in central Karakoram, 9–10 September 1992. Geomorphological impacts and implications for climate change. Mount Res Dev 13(4):371–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Horton RE (1932) Drainage basin characteristics. Trans Am Geophys Union 13:350–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Horton RE (1945) Erosional development of streams and their drainage basins: hydro physical approach to quantitative morphology. Geol Soc Am Bull 56:275–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jaiswal R et al (2014) Watershed prioritization using Saaty’s AHP based decision support for soil conservation measures. Water Resour Manag 28(2):475–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jamwal CS, Wangu AK (2012) Geology and mineral resources of Himachal Pradesh. Misc Publ 30:17Google Scholar
  23. Javed A, Khanday MY, Ahmed R (2009) Prioritization of subwatersheds based on morphometric and land use analysis using remote sensing and GIS techniques. J Indian Soc Remote Sens 37(2):261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jenson SK, Domingue JO (1988) Extracting topographic structure from digital elevation data for geographic information system analysis. Photogramm Eng Remote Sens 54(11):1593–1600Google Scholar
  25. Jonkman SN (2005) Global perspectives on loss of human life caused by floods. Nat Hazards 34(2):151–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Katiyar R, Gara PK, Jain SK (2006) Watershed prioritization and reservoir sedimentation using remote sensing data. Geocarto Int 21(3):55–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kochel RC (1988) Geomorphic impact of large floods: review and new perspectives on magnitude and frequency. In: Baker V, Kochel R, Patton P (eds) Flood geomorphology. Wiley, New York, pp 169–187Google Scholar
  28. Kumar KJA, Walia A (2012) India Disaster Report. National Institute of Disaster Management, IIPA Campus, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  29. Lastra J, Fernandez E, Diez-Herrero A, Marquinez J (2008) Flood hazard delineation combining geomorphological and hydrological methods: an example in the Northern Iberian Peninsula. Nat Hazards 45(2):277–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Magesh NS, Jitheshlal KV, Chandrasekar N, Jini KV (2013) Geographical information system based morphometric analysis of Bharathapuzha river basin, Kerala, India. Appl Water Sci 3(2):467–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Maidment DR (2002) ArcHydro GIS for water resources. Esri Press, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  32. Martin D, Saha SK (2007) Integrated approach of using remote sensing and GIS to study watershed prioritization and productivity. J Indian Soc Remote Sens 35(1):21–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Merz R, Bloschl G (2008) Flood frequency hydrology: 1. Temporal, spatial, and causal expansion of information, Water Resource ResearchGoogle Scholar
  34. Moussa R (2003) On morphometric properties of basins, scale effects and hydrological response. Hydrol Process 17(1):33–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Miller VC (1953) A quantitative geomorphologic study of drainage basin characteristics in the Clinch Mountain area, Virginia and Tennessee, Project NR 389042, Tech Report 3. Columbia University Department of Geology, ONR Geography Branch, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Nag SK, Chakraborty S (2003) Influence of rock types and structures in the development of drainage network in the hard rock area. J Indian Soc Remote Sens 31(1):25–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nookaratanam K, Srivastava YK, Venkateshwara RV, Amminedu E, Murthy KSR (2005) Check dam positioning by prioritization of micro-watersheds using SYI model and morphometric analysis—remote sensing and GIS perspective. J Indian Soc Remote Sens 33(1):25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Patton PC (1988) Flood geomorphology. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  39. Patton PC, Baker VR (1976) Morphometry and floods in small drainage basins subject to diverse hydrogeomorphic controls. Water Resour Res 12(5):941–952CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pradhan B (2010) Flood susceptible mapping and risk area estimation using logistic regression, GIS and remote sensing. J Spat Hydrol 9(2):2–12Google Scholar
  41. Pradhan B, Shafie M (2009) Flood hazard assessment for cloud prone rainy areas in a typical tropical environment. Disaster Adv 2(2):7–15Google Scholar
  42. Reddy OGP, Maji AK, Gajbhiye SK (2004) Drainage morphometry and its influence on landform characteristics in a basaltic terrain, Central India—a remote sensing and GIS approach. Int J Appl Earth Observation Geoinf 6(1):1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Romshoo S, Bhat S, Rashid I (2012) Geoinformatics for assessing the morphometric control on hydrological response at watershed scale in the upper Indus basin. J Earth Syst Sci 121(3):659–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sah MP, Mazari RK (1998) Anthropogenically accelerated mass movement in the Kullu valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. Geomorphology 26(1):123–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schumm SA (1956) Evolution of drainage systems and slopes in Badlands at Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Geol Soc Am Bull 67:597–646CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Snyder FF (1938) Synthetic unit graphs. Trans Am Geophys Union 19:447–454Google Scholar
  47. Sreedevi PD, Owais S, Khan HH, Ahmed S (2009) Morphometric analysis of a watershed of south India using SRTM data and GIS.J Geol Soc India 73(4):543–552CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. State of Environment Report on Himachal Pradesh. Department of Environment, Science and Technology, Government of Himachal Pradesh. Naryan Villa, Shimla (Himachal Pradesh)Google Scholar
  49. Strahler AN (1964) Handbook of applied hydrology. McGraw Hill Book Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  50. Sujatha ER, Selvakumar R, Rajasimman UAB (2014) Watershed prioritization of Palar sub-watershed based on the morphometric and land use analysis. J Mt Sci. doi: 10.1007/s11629-012-2628-7 Google Scholar
  51. Tarboton DG, Bras RL, Rodriguez I (1991) On the extraction of channel networks from digital elevation data. Hydrol Process 5(1):81–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thomas J, Joseph S, Thrivikramji KP, Abe G, Kannan N (2012) Morphometrical analysis of two tropical mountain river basins of contrasting environmental settings in the southernWestern Ghats, India. Environ Earth Sci 66:8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. US Army Corps of Engineers (1959) Engineering construction flood control. Engg School, Fort BelvoirGoogle Scholar
  54. Youssef AM, Hegab MA (2005) Using geographic information systems and statistics for developing a database management system of the flood hazard for Ras Gharib area, Eastern Desert, Egypt. In: The fourth international conference on the geology of Africa, vol 2Google Scholar
  55. Youssef A, Pradhan B, Hassan A (2011) Flash flood risk estimation along the St. Katherine Road, Southern Sinai, Egypt using GIS based morphometry and satellite imagery. Environ Earth Sci 62:611–623. doi: 10.1007/s12665-010-0551-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Regional DevelopmentJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations