Institute for Water Resources

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A primary goal of the US Army Corps of Engineers is to safeguard the enormous Federal investments in water-related resources by enhancing the resilience of water infrastructure and other water-related resources and by reducing their potential vulnerabilities to climate change effects. Since 2007, Federal agencies involved with the science or operations and management of water resources in the US have joined together in the Climate Change and Water Working Group (CCAWWG), an informal agency-to-agency confederation at the working level.

The CCAWWG agencies are now planning the climate adaptation strategies and policies that will ensure effective and efficient use of Federal water resources on temporal scales from the near (5-10 years) to long term (10-50 years or longer). To do so, they need to rely on good practice guidelines to assess the large and varied portfolio of possible approaches for producing and using actionable climate science for water resource adaptation questions. Adding to the complexity is that each method or analytical technique in this portfolio brings uncertainties and particular deficiencies, some of which are large or only partly characterized and poorly quantified.

The CCAWWG convened a workshop in Boulder, CO, on 9-10 November 2010 to consider how to assess methods for producing and using climate science and climate change effects information for water resource-related adaptation decisions. More than 70 participants attended the Boulder 'Portfolio of Approaches' workshop. Attendees included representatives from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the US Forest Service (USFS), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In addition, participants attended from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and from several universities and public-private research partnerships like the NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) centers.

Workshop participants heard and discussed more than 30 papers and held break-out sessions to help develop good practice guidelines for helping agencies assess these approaches and choose appropriate ones for their particular adaptation decisions. Any guidelines for water-resource adaptation decisions will not dictate individual approaches to be taken for specific applications. Rather, they will help agencies develop robust, defensible, and reproducible practices for assessing the strengths and limits of different approaches to using climate information at the various choice-points in their decision processes. The guidelines also will be structured to be flexible enough to apply to current state-of-the-science information as well as to future climate science developments. For more information, see the workshop summary (pdf, 133 KB). Additional information will be posted when available.