Evaluating the Relevance, Credibility, and Applicability of CMIP5 Climate Projections for Water Resources and Environmental Planning

Project ID: 1005
Principal Investigator: Ian Ferguson
Research Topic: Water Resource Data Analysis
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016
Keywords: None

Research Question

Water resources planning and management often focus on reducing the impacts of hydrologic variability and extremes such as droughts and floods. To meet these objectives, water resources planning studies routinely consider hydrologic variability and extremes on timescales ranging from days to decades. Because weather and climate are two primary drivers of hydrologic variability on a continuous time-scale, these studies also consider—implicitly or explicitly— variability and extremes in precipitation, temperature, and other climate variables that impact hydrologic conditions and water supplies and demands.

Need and Benefit

Water resources planning has traditionally relied on historical observations as the basis for characterizing the likely range of future climate and hydrologic conditions. Similarly, historical observations, in combination with assumptions regarding future population and economic growth, served as the basis for projecting future water supplies and demands. A vast amount of research over the past two decades, however, has demonstrated that climate change is altering, and will continue to alter, climate and hydrology across the globe. This research suggests that historical observations are not sufficient to characterize the potential range of climate and hydrologic conditions over future decades. In response, numerous federal and state agencies have adopted guidelines, directives, and mandates that require consideration of climate change in long-term water resources and environmental planning.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Evaluating the Relevance, Credibility, and Applicability of CMIP5 Climate Projections for Water Resources and Environmental Planning (final, PDF, 17.2MB)
By Ian Ferguson
Publication completed on September 30, 2016

As the use of climate projection information evolves from relatively simple standalone impact and vulnerability assessments into high-profile decision-support studies, planners and managers require a consistent framework for selecting climate projection information to support specific investment and management decisions. To this end, the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) recently collaborated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a conceptual framework for selecting climate projection information. The overall objective of this collaborative project was to demonstrate and evaluate this conceptual framework by applying the framework to select climate projection information for a hypothetical planning study.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20