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Assessing climate change implications for water resources planning

TitleAssessing climate change implications for water resources planning
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsWood AW, Lettenmaier DP, Palmer RN
JournalClimatic Change
Start Page203
Date Published09/1997

Numerous recent studies have shown that existing water supply systems are sensitive to climate change. One apparent implication is that water resources planning methods should be modified accordingly. Few of these studies, however, have attempted to account for either the chain of uncertainty in projecting water resources system vulnerability to climate change, or the adaptability of system operation resulting from existing planning strategies. Major uncertainties in water resources climate change assessments lie in a) climate modeling skill; b) errors in regional downscaling of climate model predictions; and c) uncertainties in future water demands. A simulation study was designed to provide insight into some aspects of these uncertainties. Specifically, the question that is addressed is whether a different decision would be made in a reservoir reallocation decision if knowledge about future climate were incorporated (i.e., would planning based on climate change information be justified?). The case study is possible reallocation of flood storage to conservation (municipal water supply) on the Green River, WA. We conclude that, for the case study, reservoir reallocation decisions and system performance would not differ significantly if climate change information were incorporated in the planning process.