Assessing the relative contributions of hydrologic models to bias corrected future projected climate flows.

Project ID: 1797
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Johnson
Research Topic: Water Resource Data Analysis
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017 and 2018
Keywords: None

Research Question

Is there a benefit to developing a more complex or better calibrated hydrologic model for developing possible future climate adjusted hydrologic flows or does the existing bias-correction process result in similar flows regardless of the quality of the hydrologic model? What is the gain of a more complex or better calibrated hydrologic model relative to the cost in time and money to develop such a tool?

Need and Benefit

Need: Analyzing the impacts of potential future climate on river reservoir systems is necessary to ensure that Reclamation can continue to complete its mission of delivering water and power to the Western United States. The exact protocols and methods for conducting these evaluations are constantly evolving since climate change science is relatively new. Understanding the best, most efficient, and most cost effective tools and methods for conducting these analyses are essential for future planning. This analysis addresses that exact need of determining if better methods and tools are indeed needed or if current methods and tools are sufficient. This will lead to future study funds being directed to the most important study tasks, rather than building a newer, better model just because it is thought to be better.

Benefit: The goal of this study is to determine if it is worth the additional investment of time and money to develop a more complex or better calibrated hydrologic model for future climate studies or if existing tools and methods are sufficient. Hydrologic models can cost anywhere from an estimated $60,000 to $200,000 and 3 months to 2 years to develop and calibrate, so knowing whether or not to add such a task to a study is significant to the overall study cost. In addition, if it is determined that existing tools are sufficient, it could reduce study costs or allow for more in-depth analysis in other areas of the study.

Urgency: This project will have an immediate benefit to the Upper Deschutes Basin study by allowing the stakeholder concerns to be addressed during the study window. This project will also have an impact on basin studies that are currently in the planning stage since it will assist the study manager and technical team in determining if a more complex or better calibrated hydrologic model is needed for their study or if current tools and methods are sufficient.

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20