Articles | Volume 15, issue 3
Research article
09 Mar 2011
Research article |  | 09 Mar 2011

Examination of homogeneity of selected Irish pooling groups

S. Das and C. Cunnane

Abstract. Flood frequency analysis is a necessary and important part of flood risk assessment and management studies. Regional flood frequency methods, in which flood data from groups of catchments are pooled together in order to enhance the precision of flood estimates at project locations, is an accepted part of such studies. This enhancement of precision is based on the assumption that catchments so pooled together are homogeneous in their flood producing properties. If homogeneity is assured then a homogeneous pooling group of sites lead to a reduction in the error of quantile estimates, relative to estimators based on single at-site data series alone. Homogeneous pooling groups are selected by using a previously nominated rule and this paper examines how effective one such rule is in selecting homogeneous groups. In this paper a study, based on annual maximum series obtained from 85 Irish gauging stations, examines how successful a common method of identifying pooling group membership is in selecting groups that actually are homogeneous. Each station has its own unique pooling group selected by use of a Euclidean distance measure in catchment descriptor space, commonly denoted dij and with a minimum of 500 station years of data in the pooling group. It was found that dij could be effectively defined in terms of catchment area, mean rainfall and baseflow index. The study then investigated how effective this selected method is in selecting groups of catchments that are actually homogenous as indicated by their L-Cv values. The sampling distribution of L-CV (t2) in each pooling group and the 95% confidence limits about the pooled estimate of t2 are obtained by simulation. The t2 values of the selected group members are compared with these confidence limits both graphically and numerically. Of the 85 stations, only 1 station's pooling group members have all their t2 values within the confidence limits, while 7, 33 and 44 of them have 1, 2 or 3 or more, t2 values outside the confidence limits. The outcomes are also compared with the heterogeneity measures H1 and H2. The H1 values show an upward trend with the ranges of t2 values in the pooling group whereas the H2 values do not show any such dependency. A selection of 27 pooling groups, found to be heterogeneous, were further examined with the help of box-plots of catchment descriptor values and one particular case is considered in detail. Overall the results show that even with a carefully considered selection procedure, it is not certain that perfectly homogeneous pooling groups are identified.