An Excellent Paper That Focuses On The Vulenerabiltiy of Water Resources

There is an excellent paper that presents the much needed broader view of a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective (in this paper with respect to water resources) than the IPCC dominated literature which focuses on a top-down multi-decadal global climate model driven focus on impacts.

The paper is

Harou, J. J., J. Medellín‐Azuara, T. Zhu, S. K. Tanaka, J. R. Lund, S. Stine, M. A. Olivares, and M. W. Jenkins (2010), Economic consequences of optimized water management for a prolonged, severe drought in California, Water Resour. Res., 46, W05522, doi:10.1029/2008WR007681.

If abrupt climate change has occurred in the past and may be more likely under human forcing, it is relevant to look at the adaptability of current infrastructure systems to severe conditions of the recent past. Geologic evidence suggests two extreme droughts in California during the last few thousand years, each 120–200 years long, with mean annual streamflows 40%–60% of the historical mean. This study synthesized a 72 year drought with half of mean historical inflows using random sampling of historical dry years. One synthetic hydrological record is used, and sensitivity to different interpretations of the paleorecord is not evaluated. Economic effects and potential adaptation of California’s water supply system in 2020 to this drought is explored using a hydroeconomic optimization model. The model considers how California could respond to such an extreme drought using water trading and provides best‐case estimates of economic costs and effects on water operations and demands. Results illustrate the ability of extensive, intertied, and flexible water systems with heterogeneous water demands to respond to severe stress. The study follows a different approach to climate change impact studies, focusing on past climate changes from the paleorecord rather than downscaled general circulation model results to provide plausible hydrologic scenarios. Adaptations suggested for the sustained drought are similar for dry forms of climate warming in California and are expensive but not catastrophic for the overall economy but would impose severe burdens on the agricultural sector and environmental water uses.

This paper applies the emphasis that was presented in the post

The Vulnerability Perspective

where I wrote

There are 5 broad areas that we can use to define the need for vulnerability assessments : water, food, energy, health and ecosystem function. Each area has societally critical resources. The vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to these resources from climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risk from natural- and human-caused climate change (estimated from the GCM projections, but also the historical, paleo-record and worst case sequences of events) can be compared with other risks in order to adopt the optimal mitigation/adaptation strategy.

The Harou et al 2010 is an excellent example of this approach.

Comments Off

Filed under Vulnerability Paradigm

Comments are closed.