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Applications of climate forecast information in water resources management: opportunities and challenges in the Yakima R. basin, Washington Andy Wood Julie.

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Presentation on theme: "Applications of climate forecast information in water resources management: opportunities and challenges in the Yakima R. basin, Washington Andy Wood Julie."— Presentation transcript:

1 Applications of climate forecast information in water resources management: opportunities and challenges in the Yakima R. basin, Washington Andy Wood Julie Vano Shrad Shukla Anne Steinemann Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington NOAA Climate Prediction Application Science Workshop Chapel Hill, NC, March 2008

2 CPASW Challenge! Climatologically benign future meeting location?

3 Using NOAA Climate Forecasts with Hydrological Assessments to Reduce Drought Vulnerabilities and Improve Water Management Project Goals: 1) Explore model-based hydrologic drought indicators as triggers for management: soil moisture, SWE, streamflow (Wood) 2) Interact with water users and managers to integrate climate and hydrologic forecasts in decision- making (Steinemann)

4 Motivation Drought among most costly natural disasters Drought in Washington agriculture losses more than $400 million in 2001 and $300 million in 2005 Climate and hydrologic forecast information helps avoid drought impacts Photo courtesy of Research Activities (2 nd goal) Explore current uses of NOAA climate information in water resources management Understand user perspectives & decisions and identify service gaps

5 decision required information climate / hydrology existing forecast informationsuccess / gap water allocations for summer irrigation on March 1, April-July runoffNRCS/RFC runoff volume forecast ENSO climatology + accurate most years + easy to understand + location specific - no monthly disaggregation set spawning flow levels; must keep constant by Nov 1, Nov-Dec inflow, precip or even just Nov 1-15 precip CPC medium range precipitation forecast; CPC seasonal precipitation forecast + shows direction of forecast clearly - no idea whether theyre any good - probability maps hard to translate to precip amts. Linkages between Climate / Hydrologic Information and Decisions Examples

6 Overview Yakima River Basin hydrology and water use Climate-related Decisionmaking Photo courtesy of

7 Yakima River Basin Hydrology Elevation 8184 ft to 340 ft Temp and precip F, in at 2300 ft 90 F, 0-10 in at 350 ft % precip in October-March Water supply during growing season in lower basin primarily from snowmelt, depends on reservoirs for storage Six USBR reservoirs with storage capacity of ~1 million acre-ft, ~25% unregulated runoff Managed system vulnerable to drought with increasing water use and changing snowpack

8 Climate Prediction Center Three-Month Outlooks Climate Division 74

9 - Agriculture -Yakima County 5th in nation Ag production -Higher value crops, less stress tolerant -Fisheries, spring and fall Chinook salmon, summer Steelhead, Coho salmon -Hydroelectric, nine power plants -Public water supply, population growth Water Use in Yakima Basin Photos courtesy of and

10 Interactions with decisionmakers Attend monthly USBR River Operations meetings Understand how decisions made – people most involved – relevant meetings, reports, other resources Understand current water management – Total Water Supply Available (50%, 100%, 150% of average) – uses of and impressions of forecasts – stigma of past events (eg, 2001, 1977) – major concerns for future

11 Interactions with decisionmakers Primary venue for face-to- face interaction -- the monthly river operations meeting at the USBR Field Office in Yakima, WA. Participants include: forecasters water managers irrigation district managers fisheries biologists NRCS Typical agenda at right

12 Water management decisions have diverse climate information needs Decision calendar helpful for organizing information (cf work by Andrea Ray, Bonnie Colby) – these vary by decisionmaker - e.g., Manager vs. Irrigator Utility of forecasts (P, T, Q) varies greatly throughout the year The following slides give several examples

13 Spawning Flows vs Reservoir Refill (early November) Decision (by water manager): fix reservoir outflows to a constant during Nov-Dec so that fish can spawn without redds being flooded or dewatered; but keep as much water in storage so as to maximize future refill chances, up to the point of reducing flood control. Information needed: - system: current storage volume - hydrologic: system/channel inflows during Nov & Dec; Apr-July - climate:if hydrologic not available, precip during same periods decision made climate info considered

14 Spawning Flows vs Reservoir Refill (early November) Information available: - system: current storage volume - hydrologic: Apr-Jul ESP forecasts from RFC (new, not connected yet); internal regressions - climate:CPC MR forecasts; CPC seasonal outlooks Gaps: - hydrologic: trusted, timely MR and Apr-Jul forecasts at relevant sites - climate: gap may be smaller than expected decision made climate info considered

15 Spawning Flows vs Reservoir Refill (early November) Climate Information Use Use depends on current situation – in general, if a decision outcome uncertainty range includes adverse consequences, more information is sought. For example, system storage is a critical factor. - Storage good – no worries. - Storage low – both MR and seasonal forecasts become of interest. MR forecasts are trusted more, and used as qualitative tie-breaker Seasonal forecasts are perused, not really trusted. Seen as directionally deterministic.

16 directional determinism

17 Decisions may depend on short, medium range and seasonal forecast information at once The sources of information at different leads are distinct… but decisionmakers intuitively weight and merge information An argument for the so-called seamless suite! one event Yakima system storage Basin outflow

18 increasing carryover while preparing to support flows for fish in fall week-to-week operations in summer e.g. climate/hydrology decision areas

19 agricultural decisions in winter for irrigation season Managers: taking an early look at water year, but cant make public statements until March. Farmers / irrigators / banks: what to plant, $ from banks, water trading decisions. climate/hydrology decision areas

20 Gaps? Climate: CPC/WFOs do have forecast products in the realms that this USBR needs, and USBR accesses them. No use of skill information intuitive weighting by USBR Hydrology : RFCs/NRCS have a few flow products that meet USBR needs, but some connections have not been made. No use of skill information intuitive weighting use of multiple sources to assess confidence

21 Accuracy, usefulness, and limitations of forecast information Directional Skill: What percentage of time is the forecast in the "right" direction? Above Normal (AN) or Below Normal (BN) CPC Seasonal Forecast Climate Division 74, lead time 0.5 month, Temp more skillful than precip according to this measure 69% 19% 10% 2% TemperaturePrecipitation 28% 30% 22% 20% 48% 71%

22 use of analogues…an opportunity? analogue forecast use is widespread in applications world. i.e., this year is like … pros: no median line lots of variability can relate directly to past experience cons: can under-represent variability hard to combine with ICs

23 Preliminary Conclusions NOAA medium range and seasonal climate forecasts are needed in typical western water management Users consider NOAA forecasts in decisionmaking despite a lack of information on their skill Seasonal forecasts a much greater target of skepticism than medium range forecasts Re-findings: deterministic interpretations; resolution (temporal / spatial) too coarse for quantitative use. opportunities in communication: e.g., analogues, hidden products Future Directions continue to interact and explore matches between forecast information and management decisions extend analyses to hydrologic forecasts, hopefully with participation from NW RFC.

24 Acknowledgements COLLABORATORS -Chris Lynch, US Bureau of Reclamation -Doug McChesney, WA Dept of Ecology FUNDING -NOAA Sector Applications Research Program (SARP) -University of Washington Presidential Fellowship (Vano)

25 Questions? Andy Wood Julie Vano Shrad Shukla Anne Steinemann

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