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Scientific Investigations Report 2013–5111

Prepared in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Comparison Between Two Statistically Based Methods, and Two Physically Based Models Developed to Compute Daily Mean Streamflow at Ungaged Locations in the Cedar River Basin, Iowa

By S. Mike Linhart, Jon F. Nania, Daniel E. Christiansen, Kasey J. Hutchinson, Curtis L. Sanders, Jr., and Stacey A. Archfield

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1 MB)Abstract

A variety of individuals from water resource managers to recreational users need streamflow information for planning and decisionmaking at locations where there are no streamgages. To address this problem, two statistically based methods, the Flow Duration Curve Transfer method and the Flow Anywhere method, were developed for statewide application and the two physically based models, the Precipitation Runoff Modeling-System and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool, were only developed for application for the Cedar River Basin. Observed and estimated streamflows for the two methods and models were compared for goodness of fit at 13 streamgages modeled in the Cedar River Basin by using the Nash-Sutcliffe and the percent-bias efficiency values.

Based on median and mean Nash-Sutcliffe values for the 13 streamgages the Precipitation Runoff Modeling-System and Soil and Water Assessment Tool models appear to have performed similarly and better than Flow Duration Curve Transfer and Flow Anywhere methods. Based on median and mean percent bias values, the Soil and Water Assessment Tool model appears to have generally overestimated daily mean streamflows, whereas the Precipitation Runoff Modeling-System model and statistical methods appear to have underestimated daily mean streamflows. The Flow Duration Curve Transfer method produced the lowest median and mean percent bias values and appears to perform better than the other models.

First posted June 17, 2013

For additional information contact:
Director, Iowa Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
P.O. Box 1230
Iowa City, IA 52244

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Suggested citation:

Linhart, S.M., Nania, J.F., Christiansen, D.E., Hutchinson, K.J., Sanders, C.L., Jr., and Archfield, S.A., 2013, Comparison between two statistically based methods, and two physically based models developed to compute daily mean streamflow at ungaged locations in the Cedar River Basin, Iowa: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013–5111, 7 p., http://pubs




Study Area

Comparison of Methods and Models

Method and Model Results

Conclusion and Discussion of Methods and Models

References Cited

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