3. Floods and droughts from a climatologic and hydrologic perspective—how do we reconcile the two?
4. How does the science compare to the public debate?
Climate scientists observing trends in atmospheric dynamics and operating global circulation models were invited to speak along with hydrologists who study the local- to regional-scale movements and distributions of water, focusing on surface and subsurface processes across the landmass (see Appendix D for a summary of the presentations). As a result, workshop participants were presented with global, national, and regional perspectives. U.S. water managers, who routinely seek to translate science into water management solutions, and representatives from several U.S. federal agencies also attended the workshop. Thus, this report strongly reflects a U.S. perspective; it should be recognized that the United States is unique in the overall increases in precipitation that have occurred and in the water infrastructure in place (IPCC, 2001 and others). Source material for this workshop report was drawn from both formal presentations and breakout sessions, which directly engaged speakers, committee members, and other workshop participants in discussion, as well as from the committee’s deliberations.
This document is a synthesis of the workshop and the committee’s findings pertaining to the statement of task. The first section, Characterizing the Conventional Wisdom, provides an overview of the state of the science and probes whether the evidence supports ongoing changes in the frequency and severity of various hydrologic extremes (Tasks 1 and 2). The section on Translating the Science of Hydrologic Extremes to the Policy and Management Sectors examines gaps between the science and management sectors. Both sections draw heavily upon information gathered and discussed at the workshop. Finally, in the third section, A Way Forward, the committee identifies possible steps forward using the knowledge and perspectives gained from the workshop, which includes a challenge for the hydrologic community to promote the translation of research findings into planning and applications. The second and third sections address Tasks 3 and 4.