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Kinematic Shock

Surface Water Hydrology

  1. Vijay P. Singh

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.sw471

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Singh, V. P. 2005. Kinematic Shock. Water Encyclopedia. 3:239–242.

Author Information

  1. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


Kinematic shocks form due to a variety of factors, including spatial and temporal variability of inflow, systems geometry, and initial and boundary conditions. This study provides a short overview of the formation, propagation, tracing, and fitting of shocks in hydrologic modeling, in particular, referring to rainfall–runoff modeling.

The kinematic shock is a discontinuity representing a sudden rise or surge in flow depth. For example, flood waves have an intrinsic tendency to steepen as they propagate downstream due to lateral inflow or geometric constriction and eventually form a shock. The discontinuity can also represent a sudden decrease in flow depth. For example, when flow advances over a porous bed, there comes a time when the flow rate is not sufficient to satisfy the infiltrating demand of the bed and is, therefore, suddenly absorbed by the bed. This phenomenon is observed in ephemeral streams and irrigation borders and furrows. Discontinuities in flow are also observed in geologic formations due to fracture, fissures, and sudden changes in porous media properties. Shocks are also observed in landscape evolution and formation of deltas, river bed profiles, and river junctions.


  • boundary conditions;
  • celerity;
  • characteristics;
  • curved surfaces;
  • discontinuity;
  • kinematic wave theory;
  • shock fitting;
  • shock formation;
  • shock propagation