© 2021 ICE Publishing: All rights reserved.In this experimental study, the temporal development of local scour is studied around semi-circular end bridge abutments under quasi-unsteady clear-water flow conditions in a rectangular sediment channel. A step-wise hydrograph of 6 h duration is used in the experiments. Six different abutment lengths having constant width, with uniform sand as bed material, were tested for three different successive flows - each applied continuously for 2 h. Bathymetry of the bed level was measured around the abutment every 15 min with the help of a measurement device to observe temporal development of the local scour around the semi-circular end abutment. Effects of the abutment length, flow intensity and time on the scour depths around semi-circular end bridge abutments, along with those at the front, upstream and downstream faces of the abutment, are also investigated and discussed. It is shown that the maximum scour depth always occurs at the front noses of the abutments compared with those at the upstream and downstream noses. A dimensionless empirical formula is derived to predict the scour depth at the front nose of the abutment as a function of related parameters. The results reveal that flow intensity is the most critical parameter in scour development.