85th AMS Annual Meeting

Monday, 10 January 2005: 1:30 PM
Potential applications of climate forecasts by the Corps of Engineers
J. Rolf Olson, US Army Corps of Engineers, Alexandria, VA
Water resources management is frequently cited as a major potential user of seasonal climate forecasts. There are a number of reasons why water resources agencies have been slow to use climate forecasts in operations. One potential application is emergency flood management. The Corps of Engineers' Advance Measures program can provide emergency flood reduction measures when there is a warning of a potential flood several weeks or longer in advance. The program has a number of conditions that must be met to make sure that the expenditure of funds for the project is economically justified and to encourage communities to follow a sustainable floodplain management plan rather than relying on emergency response. The requirement for a benefit-cost analysis with a seasonal forecast is difficult to meet due to the lack of temporal and spatial specificity of climate outlooks. Another potential application of seasonal climate forecasts is the management of reservoirs. Reservoirs are managed for multiple uses for multiple stakeholders and are governed by a complex set of laws, institutions, and regulations. Changes in operational plans may result in some interests being winners while others are losers. Retrospective analyses of operational procedures using climate forecasts are necessary before changes in operating procedures can be implemented. The analyses must demonstrate the benefits of forecasts, their reliability, and how their use impacts various operating objectives and interest groups.

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