A comparison of methods for low streamflow estimation from spot measurements

Timothy J. Stagnitta, Charles N. Kroll, Zhenxing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Low streamflow statistic estimators at ungauged river sites generally have large errors and uncertainties. This can be due to many reasons, including lack of data, complex hydrologic processes, and the inadequate or improper characterization of watershed hydrogeology. One potential solution is to take a small number of streamflow measurements at an ungauged site to either estimate hydrogeologic indices or transfer information from a nearby site using concurrent streamflow measurements. An analysis of four low streamflow estimation techniques, regional regression, regional plus hydrogeologic indices, baseflow correlation, and scaling, was performed within the Apalachicola–Chattahoochee–Flint watershed, a U.S. Geological Survey WaterSMART region in the south-eastern United States. The latter three methods employ a nominal number of spot measurements at the ungauged site to improve low streamflow estimation. Results indicate that baseflow correlation and scaling methods, which transfer information from a donor site, can produce improved low streamflow estimators when spot measurements are available. Estimation of hydrogeologic indices from spot measurements improves regional regression models, with the baseflow recession constant having more explanatory power than the aquifer time constant, but these models are generally outperformed by baseflow correlation and scaling.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-492
Number of pages13
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2018


  • ISWS
  • scaling
  • low streamflow estimation
  • hydrogeologic indices
  • baseflow correlation
  • spot measurements
  • ungauged river sites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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