Two common approaches for estimating a linear trend are 1) simple linear regression and 2) the epoch difference with possibly unequal epoch lengths. The epoch difference estimator for epochs of length M is defined as the difference between the average value over the last M time steps and the average value over the first M time steps divided by N - M, where N is the length of the time series. Both simple linear regression and the epoch difference are unbiased estimators for the trend; however, it is demonstrated that the variance of the linear regression estimator is always smaller than the variance of the epoch difference estimator for first-order autoregressive [AR(1)] time series with lag-1 autocorrelations less than about 0.85. It is further shown that under most circumstances if the epoch difference estimator is applied, the optimal epoch lengths are equal and approximately one-third the length of the time series. Additional results are given for the optimal epoch length at one end when the epoch length at the other end is constrained.
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© 2015 American Meteorological Society.
- Mathematical and statistical techniques
- Regression analysis
- Statistical techniques
- Time series