Copula-based infilling methods for daily suspended sediment loads

Jenq Tzong Shiau, Yu Cheng Lien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Less-frequent and inadequate sampling of sediment data has negatively impacted the long and continuous records required for the design and operation of hydraulic facilities. This data-scarcity problem is often found in most river basins of Taiwan. This study aims to propose a parsimonious probabilistic model based on copulas to infill daily suspended sediment loads using streamflow discharge. A copula-based bivariate distribution model of sediment and discharge of the paired recorded data is constructed first. The conditional distribution of sediment load given observed discharge is used to provide probabilistic estimation of sediment loads. In addition, four different methods based on the derived conditional distribution of sediment load are used to give single-value estimations. The obtained outcomes of these methods associated with the results of the traditional sediment rating curve are compared with recorded data and evaluated in terms of root mean square error (RMSE), mean absolute percentage error (MAPE), Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE), and modified Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (MNSE). The proposed approach is applied to the Janshou station located in eastern Taiwan with recorded daily data for the period of 1960-2019. The results indicate that the infilled sediments by the sediment rating curve exhibit better performance in RMSE and NSE, while the copula-based methods outperform in MAPE and MNSE. Additionally, the infilled sediments by the copula-based methods preserve scattered characteristics of observed sediment-discharge relationships and exhibit similar frequency distributions to that of recorded sediment data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1701
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun 2

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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