Hydroclimatic Extremes in the Missouri River Basin

Science Center Objects

Coordinator: Dan Driscoll

Executive Summary

This is an informal web site for the Advisory Committee on Hydroclimatic Information Needs for the Missouri River Basin.  This is an informal interest group (see participant list) that began forming in the fall of 2012 in response to recent flood and drought conditions in the Missouri River Basin.  It is the vision of this group that numerous Federal, Tribal, State, and local agencies would benefit from improved information regarding hydroclimatic extremes for the Missouri River Basin.  The primary purpose of this group is to encourage and coordinate efforts towards research and development of useful scientific information relative to this need.  

Following is the Executive Summary from a white paper on this topic that has been developed by this interest group, which has grown considerably since its inception.  The complete white paper (dated Feb. 1, 2013) is available at the link below.  Individuals interested in joining this group, obtaining more information, or posting information here should contact Dan Driscoll.

Executive Summary extracted from white paper of Feb. 1, 2013

Recent droughts and unprecedented flooding have highlighted the need for additional hydroclimatic information that would be relevant to a wide variety of water resource management issues, both along the mainstem of the Missouri River and throughout the basin.  The Missouri River Basin is subject to extreme variability in hydroclimatic conditions.  Management of the mainstem reservoir system historically has been affected more frequently by drought conditions than flood conditions, and managing for the two opposing extremes is especially challenging. 

Observed streamflow and climate records generally are inadequate to accurately describe long-term variability in hydroclimatic extremes.  This document provides an overview of conceptual approaches for developing additional datasets and scientific tools useful in managing for hydroclimatic extremes.  The general objectives of the proposed study would be to (1) obtain comprehensive hydroclimatic information on timescales substantially exceeding observed records and (2) develop scientific tools for improving management capabilities, especially relative to hydrologic extremes.  The proposed approach would consist of three primary study components: (1) compilation and characterization of observed hydroclimatic records; (2) various levels of hydroclimatic modeling focused on probability analyses relative to hydrologic extremes and improving predictive watershed modeling capabilities; and (3) paleoclimatic and paleoflood investigations, which would provide much longer-term context than is currently available relative to hydroclimatic extremes.  For planning purposes, a time frame of about 5 years probably would be needed for completion of paleoclimatic and paleohydrologic investigations; however, the other primary study components could completed within several years.

It is envisioned that numerous Federal, Tribal, State, and local agencies would benefit from improved information regarding hydroclimatic extremes for the Missouri River Basin and thus could participate from various standpoints.  Resources could be contributed by many agencies and in many forms including funding, staff time, relevant datasets, and so forth.  A critical aspect will be coordination of research efforts, which could be facilitated by formulation of an advisory committee consisting of interested agencies working jointly to find applicable programmatic means for bringing resources to bear.  Thus, it is envisioned that research needs would be addressed through a wide variety of individual projects that would be funded through numerous programmatic avenues appropriate to specific research projects.