Water Resources Management

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 919–932 | Cite as

Use of climate scenarios to aid in decision analysis for interannual water supply planning

  • James S. Risbey
  • Kais Hamza
  • John S. Marsden
Original Article


This work addresses the issue of climate change in the context of water resource planning on the time scale of a few years. Planning on this time scale generally ignores the role of climate change. However, where the climate of a region has already shifted, the use of historical data for planning purposes may be misleading. In order to test this, a case study is conducted for a region, the Australian Capital Territory, where long term drought is raising concerns of a possible climate shift. The issue is cast in terms of a particular planning decision; the option to augment water supply in the next few years to hedge against the drought persisting. A set of climate scenarios are constructed for the region corresponding to the historical climate regime and to regimes where progressively greater levels of change are assumed to have already taken place (5%, 10%, 20% reductions in mean rainfall). Probabilities of the drought persisting are calculated for each of the scenarios. The results show substantial increases in the probability of the drought persisting for even moderate reductions in mean rainfall. The sensitivity of the decision to augment supply to the scenario results depends ultimately on the planners tolerable thresholds for the probability of the drought persisting. The use of different scenarios enables planners to explore the sensitivity of the decision in terms of their risk tolerance to ongoing drought and to their degree of belief in each of the scenarios tested.


Drought management Climate scenarios Climate change Water resources Decision analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. Risbey
    • 1
  • Kais Hamza
    • 2
  • John S. Marsden
    • 3
  1. 1.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchHobartAustralia
  2. 2.School of Mathematical SciencesMonash UniversityMonashAustralia
  3. 3.Marsden Jacob AssociatesKewAustralia

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