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Seminar Abstract

Lance Vail - Nov 20, 2001

Impact of Climate on the Lower Yakima River Basin

Lance Vail* (, Mike Scott*, Kristi Branch*, Duane Nietzel*, L Ruby Leung*, Mike Scott*, Mark Wigmosta1, Claudio Stockle+, Keith Saxton+

* Battelle Pacific Northwest Division, Richland, Washington; + Washington State University, Pullman, Washington

The objective of this project is to develop and demonstrate a framework to assess the localized impact of climate change and climate variability on a diverse set of interdependent interests including agriculture, water supply, water quality, air quality, fisheries, and economics. The goal of this project is not to develop any specific new process models, but to integrate existing models as to ensure that the linkages between the various models are appropriately represented. Since any such assessment is subject to considerable uncertainty, this framework will explicitly consider the generation and propagation of assessment uncertainty. The framework will also evaluate the tradeoffs associated with adaptation alternatives, such as farm management practices and reservoir operations. The framework will be demonstrated on the Lower Yakima River Basin, Washington. The assessment results and adaptation tradeoffs will be made available to the stakeholders via the Internet. The proposed framework will 1) focus on the horizontal integration, 2) express the impact of various adaptations as tradeoffs between endpoints and 3) quantify uncertainty.

The critical requirements for the framework have been identified in terms of accountability, accessibility, and adaptability. To ensure accountability the framework must provide tools to help planners develop accountable decision-making processes and to allow users to understand how decisions were made. For instance, the framework should:

  • clearly articulate the tradeoffs between multiple objectives,
  • communicate the likelihood of making decision errors that result from model and data uncertainty,
  • create a bias towards robust alternatives,
  • facilitate the sharing of process knowledge, and
  • show the models, data, and assumptions used to reach decisions.

To ensure accessibility the framework should:

  • provide reliable and rapid access to models, data, and the rationale that underpins decisions,
  • provide the ability to "drill-down" through decisions, data and models,
  • ensure maximum access by being Web-accessible, and
  • provide safe collaboration for the decision-making process.

As with all technology-based approaches the framework must adapt continuously and rapidly to new data, models, and needs or the system will soon be obsolete. The framework must also help planners to be adaptive in their management approach, giving them greater flexibility and responsiveness. For instance, the framework should:

  • incorporate a modular modeling design that allows new data and models to be integrated into analyses,
  • support real-time assimilation of data by providing tools to automate the calibration process,
  • provide tools required to support adaptive management, and
  • streamline environmental planning allowing it to occur earlier in the planning process.

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