River Discharge

Discharge of a river means the speed and volume of the river’s flow.  Discharge is a measure of how much water flows past a point on a river and is influenced by stream order, drainage density, size of the river and how fast it flows.  The speed or velocity of a river’s flow depends on its gradient, the surface of the riverbed and the type of flow. 

Laminar flow is smooth water flow.  In these cases the riverbed is smooth and there are no sudden changes in the river level.  Water flows in layers or sheets.  Smooth flow is faster than turbulent flow.


Turbulent flow is rough, bubbling flow.  If the surface is uneven and there are sudden changes in river level, the flow is uneven.   This type of flow is most common and carries more sediment.