Detecting, Interpreting, and Modeling Hydrologic Extremes to Support Flexible Water Management and Planning

Project ID: 1782
Principal Investigator: Dagmar Llewellyn
Research Topic: Managing Hydrologic Events
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017 and 2018
Keywords: None

Research Question

Precipitation and flow extremes are critical parameters in Reclamation's water resources planning, due to both the management threats and opportunities that they provide, as well as their importance to ecosystems and endangered species. Given climate variability and change, Reclamation needs
non-stationary tools to help it characterize these extremes, to improve its water management and planning.
This research has two guiding questions:
(1) How can we better detect and interpret the variability and trends of hydrologic extremes? We hypothesize that weather types can help to interpret the variability and trends detected in historical hydrologic records.
(2) How can we incorporate this understanding into non-stationary tools that support flexible water management and improved planning?
We hypothesize that statistical tools, such as Extreme Value Theory, can be used with weather type information to enable non-stationary estimates of the timing and magnitude of extreme threshold exceedances that are relevant to Reclamation management and planning.

Need and Benefit

The "2016 SECURE Report to Congress – Congressional Report", under "Priority Technical and Research Needs", calls to: "Improve the Understanding of Impacts Associated with Extreme and Unusual Events." It specifically states: "Studies should be encouraged to more thoroughly investigate the full spectrum of impacts and uncertainties associated with extreme events, to help inform appropriate infrastructure investments." This need is addressed by pursuing research to detect, interpret, and model critical threshold exceedances. In many parts of the arid and semi-arid West, moisture from extremes may be a missed opportunity; thus results benefit Reclamation by helping managers move from escalating risks to planning for ways to more effectively use the changing water supply. Finally, there is an urgency: managers are already dealing with the impacts of extreme precipitation events and Reclamation would benefit from additional tools to better predict and characterize these events.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Please contact research@usbr.gov about research products related to this project.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17