The index gage method to develop a flow duration curve from short-term streamflow records

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The flow duration curve (FDC) is one of the most commonly used graphical tools in hydrology and provides a comprehensive graphical view of streamflow variability at a particular site. For a gaged site, an FDC can be easily estimated with frequency analysis. When no streamflow records are available, regional FDCs are used to synthesize FDCs. However, studies on how to develop FDCs for sites with short-term records have been very limited. Deriving representative FDC when there are short-term hydrologic records is important. For instance, 43% of the 394 streamflow gages in Illinois have records of 20 years or fewer, and these short-term gages are often distributed in headwaters and contain valuable hydrologic information. In this study, the index gage method is proposed to develop FDCs using short-term hydrologic records via an information transfer technique from a nearby hydrologically similar index gage. There are three steps: (1) select an index gage; (2) determine changes of FDC; and (3) develop representative FDCs. The approach is tested using records from 92 U.S. Geological Survey streamflow gages in Illinois. A jackknife experiment is conducted to assess the performance. Bootstrap resampling is used to simulate various periods of records, i.e., 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, and 20 years of records. The results demonstrated that the index gage method is capable of developing a representative FDC using short-term records. Generally, the approach performance is improved when more hydrologic records are available, but the improvement appears to level off when the short-term gage has 10 years or more records.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Bootstrap resampling
  • FDC
  • Flow duration curve
  • Index gage
  • Jackknife
  • Short-term records

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'The index gage method to develop a flow duration curve from short-term streamflow records'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this