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Engagement and Impact through Themed Joint Sessions

We are expecting, with your participation and involvement, these themed joint sessions will serve as a catalyst for focusing the attention of the research and operational communities (and also those who are involved in accelerating the transition of research results into operations) on the exciting possibilities related to advancing predictive capabilities across many fields and applications.
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Special Joint Themed Panel Session: From Predictions to Impact Based Decisions: Linking Water, Weather, Coastal and Climate

Monday, 7 January 2013 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM; Ballroom G

This joint themed session kicks off 8 of the AMS committees and is designed to draw attention of the research and operational communities (and also those who are involved in accelerating the transition of research results into operations) on the exciting possibilities related to advancing applications of weather, water, coastal and climate predictive capabilities to the operation of systems to manage floods, droughts, water supply, water quality, coastal resources, and related environmental impacts.  It will be an introduction to:  (i) the increasing use of predictions by decision makers throughout federal, state, and local government agencies and private/commercial sectors; and (ii) how this is expected to present opportunities and challenges for the weather, water, costal and climate enterprise predictive capabilities to support smarter, more informed, and highly reliable, impact-based decisions.  This session is co-hosted by the following AMS committees:

  • Hydrology
  • Coastal Environment (CE)
  • Climate Variability and Change (CVC)
  • Applied Climatology
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Weather Analysis and Forecasting (WAF)
  • Weather and Climate Enterprise Commission Water Resources Committee
  • Environmental Information Processing Technologies (EIPT)

In an era where communities throughout the United States, including along waterways and coasts, are striving to make decisions that increase their resiliency (that is, reduce the impacts of a hazard), a full understanding of the forecast characteristics and how they can be used is critical.  These areas serve the nation by supporting growing populations, recreation, water-born commerce, water supply, renewable energy exploration, and fish/seafood supplies.   Considerations for the benefits of forecasts for these sometimes competing demands will be explored.

The panel will begin with the NYC case study a story about how the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will use NOAA ensemble forecasts to better manage its water supply system.  NYCDEP has given NOAA $1 million to develop the capability to meet NYC requirements both for real-time ensemble forecasts and for historical hindcasts of the ensemble forecasts.  NOAA ensemble forecasts will be used by a decision support system that NYC calls an Operations Support Tool (OST), a cutting-edge, $5.2 million computer system that will enable DEP’s water supply operators to more accurately predict water storage levels in the City’s reservoirs so that DEP can better manage the movement of water throughout the reservoir system, and ultimately, to the 9 million New Yorkers who rely on the City’s drinking water every day.  This initiative, the first of its kind in the world, will improve the City’s water management systems by predicting events that could affect water quality much earlier than is possible now, and incorporating more data in the models used to determine water flows. Understanding the volume and quality of the reservoirs and their feeding waters (rivers, streams, etc.) is critical to isolating and addressing cloudy water that can affect overall quality. When completed, the Operations Support Tool will enable DEP to divert or release water from its reservoirs at the best times to guarantee the highest quality water is delivered to New Yorkers and to protect downstream habitat. The system is expected to be complete by 2013 and will be phased in on a rolling basis. The consultant for the initiative is Hazen and Sawyer.

The second panel presentation will suggest opportunities and challenges for the weather, water, costal and climate enterprise to support smarter, more informed, and highly reliable, impact-based decisions.  This will include using the NYC case study to help illustrate some of these opportunities.  Examples of the kinds of opportunities and challenges that might be suggested in this presentation include:

  • Information about uncertainty in future weather, water, climate and coastal forecasts is needed and is beginning to be produced. 
  • For many applications (e.g. the NYCDEP OST project), users need a record of past forecasts and corresponding observations so they can calibrate parts of their decision support systems.
  • Implications for NOAA forecast operations to meet user needs and expectations.