The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, conducted a study to examine techniques for estimation of daily streamflows using hydrological models and statistical methods. This report focuses on the use of a hydrologic model, the U.S. Geological Survey's Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System, to estimate daily streamflows at gaged and ungaged locations. The Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System is a modular, physically based, distributed-parameter modeling system developed to evaluate the impacts of various combinations of precipitation, climate, and land use on surface-water runoff and general basin hydrology. The Cedar River Basin was selected to construct a Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model that simulates the period from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2010. The calibration period was from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2004, and the validation periods were from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2010 and January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2010. A Geographic Information System tool was used to delineate the Cedar River Basin and subbasins for the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model and to derive parameters based on the physical geographical features. Calibration of the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model was completed using a U.S. Geological Survey calibration software tool. The main objective of the calibration was to match the daily streamflow simulated by the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model with streamflow measured at U.S. Geological Survey streamflow gages. The Cedar River Basin daily streamflow model performed with a Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency ranged from 0.82 to 0.33 during the calibration period, and a Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency ranged from 0.77 to -0.04 during the validation period. The Cedar River Basin model is meeting the criteria of greater than 0.50 Nash-Sutcliffe and is a good fit for streamflow conditions for the calibration period at all but one location, Austin, Minnesota. The Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model accurately simulated streamflow at four of six uncalibrated sites within the basin. Overall, there was good agreement between simulated and measured seasonal and annual volumes throughout the basin for calibration and validation sites. The calibration period ranged from 0.2 to 20.8 percent difference, and the validation period ranged from 0.0 to 19.5 percent difference across all seasons and total annual runoff. The Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model tended to underestimate lower streamflows compared to the observed streamflow values. This is an indication that the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling model needs more detailed groundwater and storage information to properly model the low-flow conditions in the Cedar River Basin.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Simulation of daily streamflows at gaged and ungaged locations within the Cedar River Basin, Iowa, using a Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model