Evaluation of Drainage-Area Ratio Method Used to Estimate Streamflow for the Red River of the North Basin, North Dakota and Minnesota

The drainage-area ratio method commonly is used to estimate streamflow for sites where no streamflow data were collected. To evaluate the validity of the drainage-area ratio method and to determine if an improved method could be developed to estimate streamflow, a multiple-regression technique was used to determine if drainage area, main channel slope, and precipitation were significant variables for estimating streamflow in the Red River of the North Basin. A separate regression analysis was performed for streamflow for each of three seasons--winter, spring, and summer. Drainage area and summer precipitation were the most significant variables. However, the regression equations generally overestimated streamflows for North Dakota stations and underestimated streamflows for Minnesota stations. To correct the bias in the residuals for the two groups of stations, indicator variables were included to allow both the intercept and the coefficient for the logarithm of drainage area to depend on the group. Drainage area was the only significant variable in the revised regression equations. The exponents for the drainage-area ratio were 0.85 for the winter season, 0.91 for the spring season, and 1.02 for the summer season.
Date Issued
Number of Pages
U.S. Geological Survey
Rights Holder
Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
Rights Management
Creative Commons