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When ENSO Reigns, It Pours: Climate Forecasts in Flood Planning


  • Wernstedt, Kris

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Hersh, Robert


Recent scientific and technical advances have increased the potential use of longterm seasonal climate forecasts for improving water resource management. This paper examines the role that forecasts, in particular those based on the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, can play in flood planning in the Pacific Northwest. While strong evidence of an association between ENSO signals and flooding in the region exists, this association is open to more than one interpretation depending on: a) the metric used to test the strength of the association; b) the definition of critical flood events; c) site-specific features of watersheds; and d) the characteristics of flood management institutions. A better understanding and appreciation of such ambiguities, both institutional and statistical, is needed to facilitate the use of climate forecast information for flood planning and response.

Suggested Citation

  • Wernstedt, Kris & Hersh, Robert, 2001. "When ENSO Reigns, It Pours: Climate Forecasts in Flood Planning," Discussion Papers dp-01-56-, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-01-56-

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James W. Mjelde & Troy N. Thompson & Clair J. Nixon, 1996. "Government Institutional Effects on the Value of Seasonal Climate Forecasts," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(1), pages 175-188.
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    1. Wernstedt, Kris & Hersh, Robert, 2002. "Flood Planning and Climate Forecasts at the Local Level," Discussion Papers dp-02-27, Resources For the Future.

    More about this item


    Flooding; Climate; ENSO; Water Resources Planning; Water Policy; Water Management;

    JEL classification:

    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation

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