Generalized maximum-likelihood generalized extreme-value quantile estimators for hydrologic data


  • Eduardo S. Martins,

  • Jery R. Stedinger


The three-parameter generalized extreme-value (GEV) distribution has found wide application for describing annual floods, rainfall, wind speeds, wave heights, snow depths, and other maxima. Previous studies show that small-sample maximum-likelihood estimators (MLE) of parameters are unstable and recommend L moment estimators. More recent research shows that method of moments quantile estimators have for −0.25 < κ < 0.30 smaller root-mean-square error than L moments and MLEs. Examination of the behavior of MLEs in small samples demonstrates that absurd values of the GEV-shape parameter κ can be generated. Use of a Bayesian prior distribution to restrict κ values to a statistically/physically reasonable range in a generalized maximum likelihood (GML) analysis eliminates this problem. In our examples the GML estimator did substantially better than moment and L moment quantile estimators for − 0.4 ≤ κ ≤ 0.