Volume 35, Issue 1 p. 233-241
Surface Water and Climate
Free Access

Evaluating the use of “goodness-of-fit” Measures in hydrologic and hydroclimatic model validation

First published: 01 January 1999
Citations: 3,159


Correlation and correlation-based measures (e.g., the coefficient of determination) have been widely used to evaluate the “goodness-of-fit” of hydrologic and hydroclimatic models. These measures are oversensitive to extreme values (outliers) and are insensitive to additive and proportional differences between model predictions and observations. Because of these limitations, correlation-based measures can indicate that a model is a good predictor, even when it is not. In this paper, useful alternative goodness-of-fit or relative error measures (including the coefficient of efficiency and the index of agreement) that overcome many of the limitations of correlation-based measures are discussed. Modifications to these statistics to aid in interpretation are presented. It is concluded that correlation and correlation-based measures should not be used to assess the goodness-of-fit of a hydrologic or hydroclimatic model and that additional evaluation measures (such as summary statistics and absolute error measures) should supplement model evaluation tools.