Standard Article

Base Flow

Surface Water Hydrology

  1. Sharad K. Jain1,
  2. Vijay P. Singh2

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.sw41

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Jain, S. K. and Singh, V. P. 2005. Base Flow. Water Encyclopedia. 3:22–28.

Author Information

  1. 1

    National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, Uttranchal, India

  2. 2

    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


This article discusses base flow, an important component of the streamflow hydrograph. The modeling of base flow is described, followed by methods to determine the base flow recession coefficient. The methods to separate base flow are also described.

Water may reach a river by flowing over the catchment surface, moving through the soil, or through groundwater. Based on the path taken by water, streamflow may be divided into surface flow, interflow, and base flow. The ASCE defined base flow as the runoff that has reached the stream or river by passing first through the underlying aquifer, rather than by flowing directly on the ground surface. Thus, base flow is that portion of streamflow that is naturally and gradually withdrawn from groundwater storage or other delayed sources. The other names of base flow are groundwater flow, seepage flow, low flow, and fair weather flow.


  • base flow;
  • hydrograph analysis;
  • recession;
  • groundwater flow;
  • separation