Prediction in a socio-hydrological world

Water resource management involves large public investments with long-range impacts that traditional prediction approaches cannot address. One of the biggest challenges in hydrologic predictions is that the combination of environmental change along with human influences makes historical records unreliable for future predictions. So what kind of a "crystal ball" do we need to predict the future? A new opinion paper published in the Hydrological Sciences journal by ATREE's Veena Srinivasan and co-authors from Kansas State University, Tufts University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and TU Wien offers three changes the hydrology community needs to make to help envision the future better.

First, for very long-range predictions, the goal is not to predict a snapshot of the world at some future date, but rather plausible trajectories using models that include the effects of human decisions. Second, these models must try to simulate outcomes society actually cares about, so they can facilitate stakeholder participation and steer societies onto better trajectories. Third, in an increasingly globalized world, models must account for broader economic, social and cultural influences on the system of interest.

Read the paper at

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