An appraisal of the performance of data-infilling methods for application to daily mean river flow records in the UK

Harvey, Catherine L.; Dixon, Harry; Hannaford, Jamie ORCID: 2012 An appraisal of the performance of data-infilling methods for application to daily mean river flow records in the UK. Hydrology Research, 43 (5). 618-636.

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River flow records are fundamental for the sustainable management of water resources and even very short gaps can severely compromise their utility. Suitably-flagged flow estimates, derived via judicious infilling, are potentially highly beneficial to data users. The UK National River Flow Archive provides stewardship of, and access to, UK river flow records. While many datasets held on the archive are complete, gaps remain across a wide range of flow records. A comprehensive assessment of existing techniques for infilling these gaps is currently lacking. This paper therefore assesses 15 simple infilling techniques (including regression, scaling and equipercentile approaches), each relying upon data transfer from hydrologically-similar donor stations, to generate estimates of flow at 26 representative gauging stations. Results reveal the overall superiority of equipercentile and multiple regression techniques compared to the poorer capability of catchment area scaling. Donor station choice has a strong influence on technique performance. Modifying datasets to improve homogeneity, by seasonally grouping flows or excluding certain periods, offers improved performance. These findings provide a foundation upon which guidance on infilling river flow records can be based in future, allowing hydrometric practitioners and data end-users alike to adopt a consistent and auditable approach towards infilling.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems > WA - 1.4 - Management and dissemination of freshwaters data
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Boorman (to September 2014)
ISSN: 0029-1277
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The definitive peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Hydrology Research (2013), 44 (3). 401-418 10.2166/nh.2012.115 and is available at
Additional Keywords: equipercentile, hydrometric data, infilling, missing data, river flows, time series
NORA Subject Terms: Data and Information
Date made live: 17 Jul 2012 11:51 +0 (UTC)

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