Workshop on Nonstationarity, Hydrologic Frequency Analysis, and Water Management


Update (6/18/2010):

The Proceedings for the "Workshop on Nonstationarity, Hydrologic Frequency Analysis, and Water Management" are now available online.

The workshop was held in Boulder, Colorado from January 13-15, 2010, and brought together researchers and practitioners from the U.S. and international institutions. The workshop was sponsored by the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management, five federal water agencies involved in the Climate Change and Water Working Group (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency), and Colorado State University.

An underlying assumption of traditional hydrologic frequency analysis is that climate, and hence the frequency of hydrologic events, is stationary, or unchanging over time. Anthropogenic climate change and better understanding of decadal and multi-decadal climate variability present a challenge to the validity of this assumption. The workshop was organized to present and discuss possible alternatives to the assumption of stationarity in hydrologic frequency analysis and water management.

The workshop objectives were (1) to discuss in detail how water management agencies should plan and manage water resources in the face of nonstationarity, and (2) to form a coordinated action plan to help the agencies move forward. The workshop was organized into several main themes:

  • Introduction to the problem nonstationarity poses for water management
  • Understanding nonstationarity through data analysis and statistical methods
  • Forecasting future hydrologic frequency through the use of climate model information
  • Decision making with a highly uncertain future
  • International perspectives on nonstationarity
  • Summary and conclusions

Much of the funding for the workshop was provided by Actions for Change (Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET) / Hurricane Protection Decision Chronology (HPDC) Lessons Learned) led by James Dalton and Gary House. One of the lessons learned from Katrina was the need for USACE to better anticipate and adapt to changing conditions.

The workshop program included five Nobel Peace Prize laureates,1 who were lead authors for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. International participants came from Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Poland, Greece, and Italy.

Download the Workshop on Nonstationarity, Hydrologic Frequency Analysis, and Water Management proceedings (40 MB)

1 IPCC authors who gave presentations included Nigel Arnell (UK), Eugene Stakhiv (US), Zbigniew Kundzewicz (Poland), Harry Lins (US), and Ken Strzepek (US). Roger Pulwarty (US, Trinidad), another IPCC Nobel laureate, also attended.