Daily values flow comparison and estimates using program HYCOMP, version 1.0

Open-File Report 2002-286




A method used by the U.S. Geological Survey for quality control in computing daily value flow records is to compare hydrographs of computed flows at a station under review to hydrographs of computed flows at a selected index station. The hydrographs are placed on top of each other (as hydrograph overlays) on a light table, compared, and missing daily flow data estimated. This method, however, is subjective and can produce inconsistent results, because hydrographers can differ when calculating acceptable limits of deviation between observed and estimated flows. Selection of appropriate index stations also is judgemental, giving no consideration to the mathematical correlation between the review station and the index station(s). To address the limitation of the hydrograph overlay method, a set of software programs, written in the SAS macrolanguage, was developed and designated Program HYDCOMP. The program automatically selects statistically comparable index stations by correlation and regression, and performs hydrographic comparisons and estimates of missing data by regressing daily mean flows at the review station against -8 to +8 lagged flows at one or two index stations and day-of-week. Another advantage that HYDCOMP has over the graphical method is that estimated flows, the criteria for determining the quality of the data, and the selection of index stations are determined statistically, and are reproducible from one user to another. HYDCOMP will load the most-correlated index stations into another file containing the ?best index stations,? but will not overwrite stations already in the file. A knowledgeable user should delete unsuitable index stations from this file based on standard error of estimate, hydrologic similarity of candidate index stations to the review station, and knowledge of the individual station characteristics. Also, the user can add index stations not selected by HYDCOMP, if desired. Once the file of best-index stations is created, a user may do hydrographic comparison and data estimates by entering the number of the review station, selecting an index station, and specifying the periods to be used for regression and plotting. For example, the user can restrict the regression to ice-free periods of the year to exclude flows estimated during iced conditions. However, the regression could still be used to estimate flow during iced conditions. HYDCOMP produces the standard error of estimate as a measure of the central scatter of the regression and R-square (coefficient of determination) for evaluating the accuracy of the regression. Output from HYDCOMP includes plots of percent residuals against (1) time within the regression and plot periods, (2) month and day of the year for evaluating seasonal bias in the regression, and (3) the magnitude of flow. For hydrographic comparisons, it plots 2-month segments of hydrographs over the selected plot period showing the observed flows, the regressed flows, the 95 percent confidence limit flows, flow measurements, and regression limits. If the observed flows at the review station remain outside the 95 percent confidence limits for a prolonged period, there may be some error in the flows at the review station or at the index station(s). In addition, daily minimum and maximum temperatures and daily rainfall are shown on the hydrographs, if available, to help indicate whether an apparent change in flow may result from rainfall or from changes in backwater from melting ice or freezing water. HYDCOMP statistically smooths estimated flows from non-missing flows at the edges of the gaps in data into regressed flows at the center of the gaps using the Kalman smoothing algorithm. Missing flows are automatically estimated by HYDCOMP, but the user also can specify that periods of erroneous, but nonmissing flows, be estimated by the program.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Daily values flow comparison and estimates using program HYCOMP, version 1.0
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
iv, 52 p. : col. ill. ; 28 cm.; 4 refs