Regional variability in the accuracy of statistical reproductions of historical time series of daily streamflow at ungaged locations

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
William Hastings Farmer, USGS Office of Surface Water, Rolla, MO, United States, Stacey A Archfield, USGS Groundwater Information, Reston, VA, United States, Thomas Mark Over, US Geological Survey, Urbana, IL, United States and Julie E. Kiang, US Geological Survey, Reston, VA, United States
In the United States and across the globe, the majority of stream reaches and rivers are substantially impacted by water use or remain ungaged. The result is large gaps in the availability of natural streamflow records from which to infer hydrologic understanding and inform water resources management. From basin-specific to continent-wide scales, many efforts have been undertaken to develop methods to estimate ungaged streamflow. This work applies and contrasts several statistical models of daily streamflow to more than 1,700 reference-quality streamgages across the conterminous United States using a cross-validation methodology. The variability of streamflow simulation performance across the country exhibits a pattern familiar to other continental scale modeling efforts performed for the United States. For portions of the West Coast and the dense, relatively homogeneous and humid regions of the eastern United States models produce reliable estimates of daily streamflow using many different prediction methods. Model performance for the middle portion of the United States, marked by more heterogeneous and arid conditions, and with larger contributing areas and sparser networks of streamgages, is consistently poor. A discussion of the difficulty of statistical interpolation and regionalization in these regions raises additional questions of data availability and quality, hydrologic process representation and dominance, and intrinsic variability.