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Research and Applications Needs in Flood Hydrology Science: A Summary of the October 15, 2008 Workshop of the Planning Committee on Hydrologic Science Concluding Session The workshop wrapped up with a summary session to identify next steps for COHS and others to pursue issues regarding flood extremes and their estimation as well as themes for future committee activities. The participants discussed the recent escalation of flood damages and an increasing awareness of the potential effects of climate change on the hydrologic cycle as they were the sounding call for this workshop. An underlying concern among the participants is whether the historical record remains the correct basis for determining current flood risk estimation—i.e., is stationarity ‘dead’? There was discussion on the efforts by the National Weather Service to update rainfall design curves and general discussion on how probable maximum precipitation estimates and flood frequency curves could be updated. Topics for future activities articulated by participants included (A) Research to operations in hydrology. Can the current state of practice be used to help determine how to update current operational methods that might reflect changes in precipitation or flood characteristics? What new science is ready to apply to the estimation of extreme floods and their risks—such as operations research, optimization, hydrologic modeling, two-dimensional models, etc.? (B) Improved assessment of hydrologic data. In discussing the role of hydrologic data as it relates to flood estimation, there were a number of suggestions on how data can be better utilized, which included (i) reanalysis of existing hydrologic datasets and determining societal implications of the flood risks, (ii) exploring new programs to collect national paleoflood data that would allow improved estimation of very large floods, and (iii) the deployment rapid-response flood teams for data collection. It was suggested that these would lead to possible improvements in collecting and utilizing flood data. (C) The water-energy nexus. It was expressed that the linkage between water and energy was under appreciated and a number of important issues lay at the intersection between the energy and water sectors. This led to the following issues: What are the potential impacts of climate change on energy production such as the sitting of nuclear power plants that results in issues such as the supply of cooling water and corresponding regulatory issues? What are the implications of renewable energy subsidies on water demand? How are the feasibilities of various water treatment processes affected by energy availability and cost? Are there hydrologic controls that are not being considered in some of these new proposed projects (e.g., biofuels, nuclear reactors, clean coal, and oil shales) that may constrain their development? How will probable maximum precipitation updates affect FERC relicensing? (D) Water resources decision-making and planning under uncertainty. It was expressed that this topic (water resources decision-making and planning under uncertainty) needs to include uncertainty related to climate change and natural variability, as well as sampling uncertainty related to network design. (E) Hydrologic aspects of climate services. There was a final discussion around the concept of a national climate service, with thoughts about its potential scope and design. A national climate service was viewed as being analogous to the National Weather Service, but it was unclear to the
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Research and Applications Needs in Flood Hydrology Science: A Summary of the October 15, 2008 Workshop of the Planning Committee on Hydrologic Science participants what products it would produce (e.g. weekly or seasonal forecasts?) or whether it would contain a private sector component? Overall, the participants' discussion provided insights to the workshop theme on flood research, and expanded the discussion to include general hydrologic issues that may lead to future workshops. Many participants appeared to leave the workshop not only stimulated by the event, but also eager to explore answers in the context of their own professional responsibilities.