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Analysis of potential errors in real-time streamflow data and methods of data verification by digital computer

January 1, 1994

The magnitude, frequency, and types of errors inherent in real-time streamflow data are presented in part I. It was found that real-time data are generally less accurate than are historical data, primarily because real-time data are often used before errors can be detected and corrections applied.

Various methods of verifying real-time streamflow data are outlined in part II. Relatively large errors (those greater than 20-30 percent) can be detected readily by use of well-designed verification programs for a digital computer, and smaller errors can be detected only by discharge measurements and field observations. The capability to substitute a simulated discharge value for missing or erroneous data is incorporated in some of the verification routines described. The routines represent concepts ranging from basic statistical comparisons to complex watershed modeling and provide a selection from which real-time data users can choose a suitable level of verification.