Estimating minimum streamflow from measurements at ungauged sites in regions with streamflow‐gauging networks

Hydrological Processes
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Abstract

Estimation of low flows in rivers continues to be a vexing problem despite advances in statistical and process‐based hydrological models. We develop a method to estimate minimum streamflow at seasonal to annual timescales from measured streamflow based on regional similarity in the deviations of daily streamflow from minimum streamflow for a period of interest. The method is applied to 1,019 gauged sites in the Western United States for June to December 2015. The gauges were clustered into six regions with distinct timing and magnitude of low flows. A gamma distribution was fit each day to the deviations in specific discharge (daily streamflow divided by drainage area) from minimum specific discharge for gauges in each region. The Kolmogorov–Smirnov test identified days when the gamma distribution was adequate to represent the distribution of deviations in a region. The performance of the gamma distribution was evaluated at gauges by comparing daily estimates of minimum streamflow with estimates from area‐based regression relations for minimum streamflow. Each region had at least 8 days during the period when streamflow measurements would provide better estimates than the regional regression equation, but the number of such days varied by region depending on aridity and homogeneity of streamflow within the region. Synoptic streamflow measurements at ungauged sites have value for estimating minimum streamflow and improving the spatial resolution of hydrological model in regions with streamflow‐gauging networks.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Estimating minimum streamflow from measurements at ungauged sites in regions with streamflow‐gauging networks
Series title Hydrological Processes
DOI 10.1002/hyp.13452
Volume 33
Issue 15
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Washington Water Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 2057
Last page 2067