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Policy Implications of Climate Forecasts for Water Resources Management in the Pacific Northwest

Bridget Callahan, Edward Miles and David Fluharty
Policy Sciences
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Sep., 1999), pp. 269-293
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4532463
Page Count: 25
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Policy Implications of Climate Forecasts for Water Resources Management in the Pacific Northwest
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Abstract

The Columbia River Basin management system suffers from conflicts over water use and allocation, and vulnerability to climate variability that disrupt hydropower, fisheries, irrigation, water supply, and other vital activities. Climate forecasts have the potential to improve water resource management in this system supporting management decisions that decrease its vulnerability to droughts, floods, and other crises related to climate variability. This study shows that despite the potential utility, managers do not use climate forecasts except for background information. The barriers to managers' use of climate forecasts include low forecast skill, lack of interpretation and demonstrated applications, low geographic resolution, inadequate links to climate variability related impacts, and institutional aversion to incorporating new tools into decision making. To realize the potential of climate forecasts for water resources management, we recommend strategies that include technical improvements to the forecast products, and joint efforts between forecast producers and the management community to develop and demonstrate climate forecast applications through reciprocal and iterative education.

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