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Updating estimates of low-streamflow statistics to account for possible trends

September 2, 2019

Accurate estimators of streamflow statistics are critical to the design, planning, and management of water resources. Given increasing evidence of trends in low-streamflow, new approaches to estimating low-streamflow statistics are needed. Here we investigate simple approaches to select a recent subset of the low-flow record to update the commonly used statistic of 7Q10, the annual minimum 7-day streamflow exceeded in 9 out of 10 years on average. Informed by low-streamflow records at 174 US Geological Survey streamgages, Monte Carlo simulation experiments evaluate competing approaches. We find that a strategy which estimates 7Q10 using the most recent 30 years of record when a trend is detected, reduces error and bias in 7Q10 estimators compared to use of the full record. This simple rule-based approach has potential as the basis for a framework for updating frequency-based statistics in the context of possible trends.