Experimental Study on Head Loss Due to Cluster of Randomly Distributed Non-Uniform Roughness Elements in Supercritical Flow

Suresh Kumar Thappeta, Peter Fiener, Venu Chandra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Accurate estimation of head loss introduced via randomly placed roughness elements found in natural or constructed streams (e.g., fish passages) is essential in order to estimate flow variables in mountain streams, understand formation of niches for aquatic life, and model flow structure. Owing to the complexity of the involved processes and the often missing detailed data regarding the roughness elements, the head loss in such streams is mostly approximated using empirical models. In our study, we utilize flume experiments to analyze the effects of the spatial distribution of roughness elements on water surface levels and head loss and, moreover, use the produced data to test three empirical models estimating head loss. The experiments were performed in a 15 m long, 0.9 m wide flume with a slope of 5% under large Froude numbers (2.5–2.8). Flow velocities and water levels were measured with different flow rates at 58 points within a 3.96 m test section of the flume. We could show that different randomly arranged patterns of roughness elements significantly affected head loss (differences up to 33.6%), whereas water jumps occurred when flow depths were in the same size range as the roughness elements. The roughness element position and its size influenced water surface profiles. None of the three tested empirical models were able to well reproduce the differences in head loss due to the different patterns of roughness elements, with overestimated head loss from 12 to 94.7%, R2 from 41 to 73%, NSE from −21.1 to 0.09, and RRMSE from 18.4 to 93%. This generally indicates that these empirical models are conditionally suitable to consider head loss effects of random patterns of roughness elements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number464
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Head loss
  • Non-uniform size boulders
  • Random patterns
  • Supercritical flow
  • Water depth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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