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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Determining the Skill and Value of Incorporating Streamflow Forecasts into an Early Drought Detection System


This research investigates forecast skill in predicting the onset and severity of drought.  One of the unique features of NECASC research agenda is the active engagement of major a number of water supply utilities and an evaluation of how climate informed short-term stream flow forecasts and longer-range climate change forecasts influence the water supply systems.  We have engaged with the cities of Boston, New York, Providence, Philadelphia, and Baltimore to explore how operational policies that consider climate change can help them prepare for the future conditions that may be different than in the past, particularly in terms of variability.   In one case, a project, including an evaluation of seasonal-scale hydrologic forecasts for the east coast, has been advised by ongoing discussions with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the organization responsible for providing the city's drinking water. This has been performed with conjunction of CCRUN.  In addition, another project focused over a two-year period with the City of Baltimore and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to develop climate-informed drought plans for managing the water supply of Baltimore. 

Stream flow forecasts are incorporated with other key drought indices in a composite drought index to predict and classify drought severity. The skill of the combined drought indices is demonstrated through a case study on the Baltimore Water Supply. A web-based decision support tool is under development that will provide operators of the Baltimore Water Supply and the greater Susquehanna River Basin enhanced understanding of operational alternatives and impacts.  An OASIS Model: Operations and Planning Tool for the Greater Susquehanna River Basin and Climate re-forecasts (NOAA, NWS, MARFC) and a STELLA web tool model of the City of Baltimore water and a case study of drought indicators suppliers both in development.


Analyzing Streamflow Forecasts in the Context of System Performance: A Case study for Baltimore’s Water Supply, American Water Resources Association (AWRA) Annual Conference  - Oral Presentation November 13-17, 2016
Drought Management Using Streamflow Forecasts: A Case Study of the City of Baltimore Water Supply, EWRI World Environmental & Water Resources Congress 2016, May 22-26, 2016
Determining the Skill and Value of Incorporating Streamflow Forecasts into An Early Drought Detection System, AWWA 2016 Sustainable Water Management Conference. March 9, 2016.
Workshop with City of Baltimore, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and Hazen and Sawyer. October 23, 2015.
New England Graduate Student Water Symposium. September 11-13, 2015.


Tool: STELLA Drought Action Response Tool (DART): Screening tool for drought indicators and Baltimore responses

Tool: SRB OASIS Model: Operations & Planning Tool for the Greater Susquehanna River Basin 

Climate re-forecasts (NOAA NWS, MARFC)