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Understanding, communicating and managing uncertainty and risk related to future changes in catchments.

[Feb 10] “Water resources assessment in a changing climate”

Climate change will add to the challenge of balancing water supply and demand, particularly in the most water stressed locations in the UK. In their business plans for PR09 water companies endeavoured to take the impacts of climate change into account using the best available evidence. However, because this analysis by water companies predated the UKCP09 scenarios, Ofwat has excluded some £1.5billion of climate change driven investment in water resources from the Final Determination, and has identified the issue as a Notified Item for affected companies.
Water companies now urgently need to use the UKCP09 scenarios to reassess their water resources. UKCP09 provides new information on uncertainties in climate projections, expressed as probability distributions. The UKCP09 scenarios are accompanied by a weather generator, which enables continuous simulation of rainfall series and correlated variables that are representative of future climates
Use of probabilistic scenarios and weather generators is a field where academic research is now well in advance of industry practice, and, having partnered the University of East Anglia in developing the CP09 weather generator, Newcastle University (Professor Chris Kilsby) has substantial expertise in this area. There is also considerable experience of addressing some of the more problematic issues associated with UKCP09, including spatially correlated scenarios, inter-annual variability and persistent droughts. Moreover, research on risk-based decision making has explored how probabilistic information on climate uncertainties can be incorporated in assessments alongside other sources of uncertainty. These are areas where the NERC Catchment Change Network can help to address the urgent challenges that the water industry now faces in incorporating UKCP09 in water resources assessment.
The Catchment Change Network workshop on “Water resources assessment in a changing climate” will demonstrate methods for use of the UKCP09 scenarios in water resources assessment and will explore mechanisms for urgently transferring this knowledge to water companies so that they can update their water resources assessments using the best available science. We see CCN as a real opportunity to improve the way in which change in catchment response is assessed in management practice and very much hope therefore that you will be able to make a contribution to this initiative.

I’d be grateful at this stage if you could you confirm your attendance for this event via email (r.alcock@lancaster.ac.uk).

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