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News Archives - 2010

Responses to Climate Change Program Hosts Workshop on Sea Level Change Guidance

Personnel from the Responses to Climate Change program recently hosted a second workshop for developing a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Engineering Technical Letter on sea level change impacts, responses and adaptation. This workshop was held in Washington, DC, on December 2-3, 2010. Representatives from numerous agencies, including the Corps, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Naval Academy, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Navy took part in the workshop. Personnel from the University of Southampton, HR Wallingford (UK), and Moffatt & Nichol also participated.

The goal of this workshop was to advance the development of the Engineering Technical Letter, which will support the Corps Engineering Circular 1165-2-211 on multiple-scenario planning for sea level change. Presentations addressed actual and hypothetical projects that incorporated sea level change scenarios into project planning. International strategies for sea level change planning were included, and the Engineering Technical Letter working groups shared their progress on document drafts and appendices.

Workshop discussions focused on specific methods for implementing multiple-scenario planning and carrying out analyses of three sea level change scenarios. The effectiveness of sensitivity analysis and ways to incorporate adaptive management into project lifecycles were also addressed. Participants emphasized the need for field-level project planning guidance. Development of the Engineering Technical Letter will continue into 2011.

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Assessing a Portfolio of Approaches for Producing Climate Change Information to Support Adaptation Decisions

More than 70 participants attended the Boulder 'Portfolio of Approaches' workshop, hosted by the Climate Change and Water Working Group (CCAWWG) in Boulder, CO, on 9-10 November 2010. The CCAWWG is an informal scientist-to-scientist confederation across Federal agencies involved with the science or operations and management of water resources in the US. The objective of this workshop was to consider how to assess methods for producing and using climate science and climate change effects information for water resource-related adaptation decisions.

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.

One common goal of the CCAWWG partner agencies 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. Federal agencies that manage water-related resources are now planning the climate adaptation strategies and policies that will ensure effective and efficient use of those 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.

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.

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8th Ministers' Forum on Infrastructure Development in the Asia-Pacific Region

Photo of Attendees at Minister's Forum, October 8, 2010
Attendees at Minister's Forum, October 8, 2010 (courtesy Japan MLIT)
Photo of Attendees at Minister's Forum, October 8, 2010
Attendees at Minister's Forum, October 8, 2010 (courtesy Japan MLIT)
Photo of Press Conference following Minister's Forum, Oct 9, 2010
Press Conference following Minister's Forum, Oct 9, 2010 (courtesy Japan MLIT)

Drs. Jerome (Jerry) Delli Priscoli and Kate White assisted The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, at the recent 8th Ministers' Forum on Infrastructure Development in the Asia-Pacific Region in Tokyo on October 8-9, 2010. The forum theme was "Adaptation of infrastructure to increasing water-related risks under the influence of climate change." This forum is a unique international platform for ministers and senior officials to discuss development strategies and policies, exchange views, and share experiences related to infrastructure development. Representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Columbia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Papua-New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam attended the meeting, which was hosted by Japan's Ministry of Lands, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism.

Ms. Darcy presented two talks at the forum and provided comments on a Minister's Declaration on the theme of the forum. Her talk at the Senior Officials meeting on October 8 discussed details of USACE climate change adaptation progress. At the Ministers' meeting on October 9, Ms. Darcy gave a presentation addressing overarching goals to maintain and improve the performance of water-related infrastructure in the face of global and climate change. This talk was based on a paper titled "Society Benefits From Adaptation to Water-Related Risks Posed by Climate Change," which emphasizes the value of water resources infrastructure and the importance of adaptation strategies.

While in Japan, Ms. Darcy also met with Mr. Kenyu Kohmura, Vice-Minister for Engineering Affairs, Japan Ministry of Lands, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism, and with former Prime Minister of Japan H.E. Mr. Yoshiro Mori, President of the Japan Water Forum and the Asia-Pacific Water Forum.

Dr. Delli Priscoli, a senior advisor at the Institute for Water Resources (IWR), provided information about international water resources development issues. Dr. White, an IWR senior lead for global and climate change, supported Ms. Darcy in the area of climate change impacts and adaptation related to water resources. COL Truesdell, Commander, Japan District, and LTC Thomas Tickner of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works also assisted Ms. Darcy during the visit.

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Western Governors' Association/Western States Water Council Workshop on Drought, Water and Climate: Using Today's Information to Design Tomorrow's Services

The Western Governors' Association and Western States Water Council hosted a workshop on drought, water and climate services in Washington, DC, on September 14-15, 2010. Approximately 100 policy makers, agency leaders and water managers attended the meeting, representing a variety of agencies and organizations including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, universities, tribes and non-governmental organizations.

The goal of the workshop was to develop a set of recommendations to improve drought information coordination, delivery and response in a changing climate. The workshop focused on coordinating drought and related climate services and responses among federal agencies at federal, state, tribal and non-governmental intersections to meet priority needs. Initial objectives identified during the workshop were to:

  • Strengthen the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and drought information services generally.
  • Promote the development of comprehensive and integrated drought preparedness policy.
  • Explore NIDIS and drought preparedness efforts as models for climate services.

The workshop featured presentations, panel sessions and breakout discussions. IWR Director Robert Pietrowsky represented the Corps on a panel discussing the coordination of federal climate services for drought and water.

Participants throughout the workshop emphasized key messages on the importance of pilot projects or early warning systems, the need for data collection, and the value of interagency collaboration to develop and deliver climate services .

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USACE Hosts NATO Advanced Research Workshop

Workshop participants at Hella, Iceland, 6 June 2010.
Workshop participants at Hella, Iceland, 6 June 2010.
Mr. Steven L. Stockton, Director of Civil Works, and the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, and Hella, Iceland on 6 June 2010.
Mr. Steven L. Stockton, Director of Civil Works, and the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, PhD, at Hella, Iceland on 6 June 2010.

IWR's Dr. Kate White attended a NATO Advanced Research Workshop with the topic of "Climate Change: Global Change and Local Adaptation." The June 6-9, 2010 workshop in Hella, Iceland, was hosted by Drs. Igor Linkov and Todd Bridges of the USACE U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center and Ingibjörg Jónsdóttir of the University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland. Mr. Steven L. Stockton, Director of Civil Works, presented a keynote address on "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Collaborative Approach to 21st Century Challenges Posed by Global Change." He also was the lead author (with Dr. White) on a chapter of the same title to be included in a volume of the workshop proceedings. The workshop, attended by 60 scientists, engineers, and policy makers from 14 different nations, included three breakout sessions focusing on coastal adaptation, inland systems, and national security issues.

IWR staff also helped to develop another chapter to be included in the proceedings, titled "US Army Corps of Engineers Approach to Climate Change Adaptation." This chapter was authored by Mr. James C. Dalton, PE (Chief, Engineering and Construction); Mr. Theodore A. Brown, PE (Chief, Planning and Policy); Mr. Robert A. Pietrowsky (Director, Institute for Water Resources); IWR staff Dr. White, Dr. J. Rolf Olsen, Dr. Jeffrey R. Arnold, and Dr. Jason P. Giovannettone; and Dr. Levi Brekke and Dr. Dave Raff from the US Bureau of Reclamation. Dr. White presented a talk and two posters on the topic of climate change adaptation and related decision making. She is also assisting with a journal paper presenting the results of one of the breakout groups, with the working title "Adaptation of Inland Systems to Climate Change: Integrating Physical, Social, and Engineering Disciplines."

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Workshop on Nonstationarity, Hydrologic Frequency Analysis, and Water Management

The Proceedings for the "Workshop on Nonstationarity, Hydrologic Frequency Analysis, and Water Management" are now available online at You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click this icon for more information..

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

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 discussed 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

The workshop program included presentations by five Nobel Peace Prize laureates who were lead authors for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. International participants came from Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Poland, Greece, and Italy. Other information about the workshop including presentations is available on the workshop website at You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click this icon for more information..

NRC Workshop

Water Science and Technology Board
Division on Earth and Life Sciences
November 2009
A Workshop Announcement for The Committee on Hydrologic Sciences

Concerns have been raised in a number of venues, including the 2007 IPCC report and a 2008 U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Synthesis and Assessment Report (3.3; Weather and climate extremes in a changing climate) as to the implications of climate change for hydrologic extremes, including floods and droughts.

Interpretation of the finding of these reports is complicated by the fact that, notwithstanding evidence of changes in climatic extremes, recent analyses of USGS long-term streamflow records has shown few statistically significant trends over the U.S. in annual maximum streamflows. Similarly, evidence of changes in U.S. drought characteristics is mixed; across much of the eastern and central U.S. increasing trends in precipitation appear to have resulted in reductions in drought severity and length, while in parts of the west, a general warming seems to have increased evaporative demand more rapidly than precipitation, with the result that there has been a tendency in these areas towards more, longer, and more severe droughts.

Better understanding of these scientific findings, and their implications for water management, agriculture, and other sectors of the U.S. economy is a pressing need for decision makers, especially in light of widely publicized predictions of "acceleration of the hydrologic cycle" as the climate warms.

The National Research Council's You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click this icon for more information. Committee on Hydrologic Science announces a two day workshop that will probe the linkages between climate change and the land surface hydrologic cycle.  The workshop, entitled Global Change and Extreme Hydrology: Testing Conventional Wisdom, will be held at the Keck Center in Washington, DC, on January 5th and 6th, 2010. The workshop is intended to convene experts on climate and hydrologic extremes from both the climate and hydrology fields with interests in the scientific underpinnings of the topic, as well as decision makers charged with the design and management of water systems that are intended to buffer against hydrologic extremes.

The Committee on Hydrologic Science addresses research and educational opportunities in the hydrologic sciences, including data aspects. COHS primary mission is to look to and advise stakeholders and interested parties guiding the field of hydrologic science at present and into the future. The objectives of the COHS are to provide a venue for discussion of priority research topics in the hydrologic sciences among academic and professional groups, government agencies, interagency organizations, and private industry; and to identify opportunities for development of new National Academies activities, such as planning meetings or ad hoc studies, in the hydrologic sciences, including data aspects, from its interactions with Federal agencies and other organizations in the field.

Charlie Vörösmarty of the City University of New York is the chair the committee. The study director is Laura J. Helsabeck, a Water Science and Technology Board staff officer. The members of the Committee on Hydrologic Sciences are:

Charles J. Vörösmarty, Chair, City University of New York
Victor R. Baker, University of Arizona
Dennis P. Lettenmaier, University of Washington
Daniel P. Loucks, NAE, Cornell University
David Pimentel, Cornell University
George F. Smith, Riverside Technologies, Inc.
Emily H. Stanley, University of Wisconsin
Chunmiao Zheng, The University of Alabama


Reviewed 20 June 2016

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