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Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5055

Prepared in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Highway Research Board (Project TR-678)

Comparisons of Estimates of Annual Exceedance-Probability Discharges for Small Drainage Basins in Iowa, Based on Data through Water Year 2013

By David A. Eash

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.09 MB)Abstract

Traditionally, the Iowa Department of Transportation has used the Iowa Runoff Chart and single-variable regional-regression equations (RREs) from a U.S. Geological Survey report (published in 1987) as the primary methods to estimate annual exceedance-probability discharge (AEPD) for small (20 square miles or less) drainage basins in Iowa. With the publication of new multi- and single-variable RREs by the U.S. Geological Survey (published in 2013), the Iowa Department of Transportation needs to determine which methods of AEPD estimation provide the best accuracy and the least bias for small drainage basins in Iowa.

Twenty five streamgages with drainage areas less than 2 square miles (mi2) and 55 streamgages with drainage areas between 2 and 20 mi2 were selected for the comparisons that used two evaluation metrics. Estimates of AEPDs calculated for the streamgages using the expected moments algorithm/multiple Grubbs-Beck test analysis method were compared to estimates of AEPDs calculated from the 2013 multivariable RREs; the 2013 single-variable RREs; the 1987 single-variable RREs; the TR-55 rainfall-runoff model; and the Iowa Runoff Chart.

For the 25 streamgages with drainage areas less than 2 mi2, results of the comparisons seem to indicate the best overall accuracy and the least bias may be achieved by using the TR-55 method for flood regions 1 and 3 (published in 2013) and by using the 1987 single-variable RREs for flood region 2 (published in 2013).

For drainage basins with areas between 2 and 20 mi2, results of the comparisons seem to indicate the best overall accuracy and the least bias may be achieved by using the 1987 single-variable RREs for the Southern Iowa Drift Plain landform region and for flood region 3 (published in 2013), by using the 2013 multivariable RREs for the Iowan Surface landform region, and by using the 2013 or 1987 single-variable RREs for flood region 2 (published in 2013). For all other landform or flood regions in Iowa, use of the 2013 single-variable RREs may provide the best overall accuracy and the least bias.

An examination was conducted to understand why the 1987 single-variable RREs seem to provide better accuracy and less bias than either of the 2013 multi- or single-variable RREs. A comparison of 1-percent annual exceedance-probability regression lines for hydrologic regions 1–4 from the 1987 single-variable RREs and for flood regions 1–3 from the 2013 single-variable RREs indicates that the 1987 single-variable regional-regression lines generally have steeper slopes and lower discharges when compared to 2013 single-variable regional-regression lines for corresponding areas of Iowa. The combination of the definition of hydrologic regions, the lower discharges, and the steeper slopes of regression lines associated with the 1987 single-variable RREs seem to provide better accuracy and less bias when compared to the 2013 multi- or single-variable RREs; better accuracy and less bias was determined particularly for drainage areas less than 2 mi2, and also for some drainage areas between 2 and 20 mi2. The 2013 multi- and single-variable RREs are considered to provide better accuracy and less bias for larger drainage areas. Results of this study indicate that additional research is needed to address the curvilinear relation between drainage area and AEPDs for areas of Iowa.

First posted May 22, 2015

For additional information, contact:
Director, Iowa Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
P.O. Box 1230
Iowa City, IA 52244
http://ia.water.usgs.gov

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Suggested citation:

Eash, D.A., 2015, Comparisons of estimates of annual exceedance-probability discharges for small drainage basins in Iowa, based on data through water year 2013: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5055, 37 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155055.

ISSN 2328-031X (print)

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)



Contents

Acknowledgments

Abstract

Introduction

Methods of Estimation for Annual Exceedance-Probability Discharges

Comparisons of Estimates of Annual Exceedance-Probability Discharges

Examination of the 1987 Single-Variable Regional-Regression Equations

Summary

References Cited


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