Assessing Reservoir Operations Risk Under Climate Change

A collaborative effort of the Bureau of Reclamation, USGS, USACE, and the California Dept. of Water Resources, this paper presents a flexible methodology for conducting climate change risk assessments involving reservoir operations.  The risk-based framework described in this paper provides a new context for climate change assessments. It is a flexible framework that advances methods for assessing scenario-impacts and/or characterizing uncertainties about projection scenarios or associated impacts. This paper shows multiple applications of this methodology in a case study involving California’s Central Valley Project and State Water Project systems. Multiple applications were conducted to show how choices made in conducting the risk assessment, choices referred to as analytical design decisions, can affect assessed risk.  

The report reveals how portrayed risk is sensitive not only to scenario definition (e.g., chosen climate projections) but also to analytical design choices subsequent to scenario definition (e.g., how to weight projections, how to conduct scenario-impacts analysis). To date, a scenario-based approach rather than a risk-based approach has typically been used to study climate change implications for water systems in western U.S. regions.


Publication Date: April 11, 2009

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Levi D. Brekke
  • Edwin P. Maurer
  • Jamie D. Anderson
  • Michael D. Dettinger
  • Edwin S. Townsley
  • Alan Harrison
  • Tom Pruitt

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment guide


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