The focus of the workshop I attended was conveying uncertainty in the forecasts which we do. This is vital for the job I do since so much of the outcomes I predict are based on things with a high degree of uncertainty, namely the weather. We need to make it clear to our stakeholders that there is a range of possibilities and we are making best guesses, but shit happens. My little episode with the reservoir last month is a good example (and was presented as an example by my boss). Part of the discussion also focused on how this variability might change as climate change (a.k.a. global warming) has greater and greater impact on weather/climate. There is actual policy that says we must consider climate change in our long-term planning. This is where I call, "Bullshit!"
I told my boss that I really don't give a damn about global warming. Whatever is going to happen will happen. If our snow level goes up 1000' then we'll have less snow to deal with. Perhaps we'll have to capture Winter rains instead. Will we have a greater monsoon season? Great! There will be less of a need to irrigate in Summer. Look at this year. We've had a monsoonal pattern for the past few weeks which is 3-4 weeks early. The cooler temperatures and increased moisture have been wonderful in my book. Will we become more desert-like or more temperate or even tropical? No one seems to have a definitive answer. How am I supposed to plan for something that no one can predict?!? I also told my boss that we have pretty much already seen the extremes. Back in 2001 we came about as close as we have to having no snow in the Winter. It was a near disaster! We KNOW that! Back in 1983 the West saw more moisture than ever! I have heard that the eighties were not only the wettest in the century, they might have been the wettest in the millennium based on tree-ring data. So there you have it. We have seen the wettest and the driest. If either one is persistent, of course there will be change. But there's the thing. Nothing has been consistent! What have the patterns been? Obviously we have been getting warmer, but has that been a negative thing? I'd say the jury is still out. Perhaps this is my geology training coming out. The Earth doesn't really care what happens over decades or centuries. It's a very dynamic system which is what makes it so fascinating. I'm actually quite happy to have a front-row seat in watching all of the changes taking place. As I have said before, we have survived this long and we will adapt and keep on surviving.