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How climate uncertainty should be included in Great Lakes management: Modeling workshop results

TitleHow climate uncertainty should be included in Great Lakes management: Modeling workshop results
Publication TypeManual Entry
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsChao, P. T., B. F. Hobbs, and B. N. Venkatesh
Journal of the American Water Resources Association

In two workshops, we evaluated decision analysis methods for comparing Lake Erie levels management alternatives under climate change uncertainty. In particular, we wanted to see how acceptable and effective those methods could be in a public planning setting. The methods evaluated included simulation modeling, scenario analysis, decision trees and structured group discussions. We evaluated the methods by interviewing the workshop participants before and after the workshops. The participants, who were experienced Great Lakes water resources managers, concluded that simulation modeling is user-friendly enough to enable scenario analysis even in workshop settings for large public planning studies. They felt that simulation modeling can improve not only understanding of the system, but also of the options for managing it. Scenario analysis revealed that the decision for the ease study, Lake Erie water level regulation, could be altered by the likelihood of climate change. The participants also recommended that structured group discussions be used in public planning settings to elicit ideas and opinions. On the other hand, the participants were less optimistic about decision trees because they felt that the public might view subjective probabilities as difficult to understand and subject to manipulation.

Citation Key118
Community Notes

This article is a result of two modeling workshops of 15 experienced Great Lake water resource managers.  The first workshop emphasized scenario analysis and the second used decision trees to explore climate uncertainties.  Studies that integrated climate change scenarios to water quality/quantity scenarios and also to socioeconomic and environmental impacts had been conducted to evaluate the sensitivity of the 2-lake regulation scheme to climate change.  If one regulation scheme is shown better than all others under all climate scenarios, then that scheme should be chosen.  If the rank order depends on the scenarios, the likelihood of climate change must be considered.  When using the decision tree, the user’s beliefs of climate change scenarios are represented by subjective probabilities attached to each scenario.  The optimal decision using this method is the one that maximizes net expected benefits.  The following water resource investment characteristics were identified by the participants as ones that are affected by climate change: long planning horizons, irreversibility, system complexity, political factors, and external factors.  This article, although a little dated, describes two decision-making tools that water resource managers use.  Understanding these tools from the climate-science perspective allows for better formulated descriptions of uncertainty that work within the frameworks of existing problem solving methods.