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Seventeen methods for estimating ice-affected streamflow are evaluated for potential use with the U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging station network. The methods evaluated were identified by written responses from U.S. Geological Survey field offices and by a comprehensive literature search. The methods selected and techniques used for applying the methods are described in this report. The methods are evaluated by comparing estimated results with data collected at three streamflow-gaging stations in Iowa during the winter of 1987-88. Discharge measurements were obtained at 1- to 5-day intervals during the ice-affected periods at the three stations to define an accurate baseline record. Discharge records were compiled for each method based on data available, assuming a 6-week field schedule.
The methods are classified into two general categories-subjective and analytical--depending on whether individual judgment is necessary for method application. On the basis of results of the evaluation for the three Iowa stations, two of the subjective methods (discharge ratio and hydrographic-and-climatic comparison) were more accurate than the other subjective methods and approximately as accurate as the best analytical method. Three of the analytical methods (index velocity, adjusted rating curve, and uniform flow) could potentially be used at streamflow-gaging stations, where the need for accurate ice-affected discharge estimates justifies the expense of collecting additional field data. One analytical method (ice-adjustment factor) may be appropriate for use at stations with extremely stable stage-discharge ratings and measuring sections. Further research is needed to refine the analytical methods. The discharge-ratio and multiple-regression methods produce estimates of streamflow for varying ice conditions using information obtained from the existing U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging network.
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USGS Numbered Series
Evaluation of selected methods for determining streamflow during periods of ice effect