Development of Regional Curves for Hydrologic Landscape Regions (HLR) in the Contiguous United States

Whitney Blackburn-Lynch, Carmen T. Agouridis, Christopher D. Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Regional curves relate drainage area to the bankfull channel characteristics discharge, cross-sectional area, width, and mean depth. These curves are used for a variety of purposes, including aiding in the field identification of bankfull elevation and in the natural channel design process. When developing regional curves, the degree to which landform, geology, climate, and vegetation influence stream systems within a single physiographic province may not be fully considered. This study examined the use of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hydrologic Landscape Regions (HLR), as well as data from 2,856 independent sites throughout the contiguous United States (U.S.), to develop a set of regional curves (bankfull discharge, cross-sectional area, width, and mean depth) for (1) the contiguous U.S., (2) each of the 20 HLRs, (3) each of the eight physiographic divisions, (4) 22 of the 25 physiographic provinces, and (5) individual HLRs within the physiographic provinces. These regional curves were then compared to each other, as well as those from the literature. Regional curves developed for individual HLRs, physiographic divisions, and physiographic provinces tended to outperform the contiguous U.S. indicating increased stratification was beneficial. Further stratifying physiographic provinces by HLR markedly improved regional curve reliability. Use of HLR as a basis of regional curve development, rather than physiographic region alone, may allow for the development of more robust regional curves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-928
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Water Resources Association


  • geomorphology
  • hydraulic geometry
  • hydraulic landscape unit
  • regional curve
  • restoration
  • rivers/streams
  • watershed management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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