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Seasonal Hydroclimate Forecasting and Dynamic Management

Annual and decadal climate fluctuations often account for the majority of hydrologic variability seen in the instrumental record, and their behavior can sometime be anticipated using current earth monitoring capabilities. Teleconnections between regional hydroclimate and large-scale atmospheric-oceanic circulation patterns, such as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), can be utilized to produce seasonal forecasts that can reduce the year-to-year uncertainty of local hydrology, enabling reservoir operators to capitalize on and hedge against favorable and adverse hydrologic conditions, respectively, and improve performance across multiple objectives. Our research aims to extend the use of these forecasts where they may best serve to improve management objectives. An area of current interest includes the development of forecasts for water quality parameters, such as stream temperature, that are often overlooked in seasonal forecasting applications but could be used to better inform water management practices supporting aquatic ecosystems.

Provided by NOAA ESRL
Provided by NOAA ESRL

The development of mechanisms to predict and manage short-term (seasonal to interannual) variability may also be an effective adaptation strategy to climate change. Seasonal hydrologic forecasts are a means by which system vulnerabilities to interannual and low-frequency modes of hydroclimatic variability can be reduced, potentially offsetting system performance degradation to longer-term trends. Improved system performance resulting from forecast use may prove a more reliable adaptation strategy than operational changes informed by uncertain GCM projections of the future.

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