A Recommended Paradigm Shift in the Approach to Risks to Large Water Infrastructure in the Coming Decades

  • Roger A. PielkeSr.Email author
  • Faisal Hossain


We propose the adoption of a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability approach in evaluating the effect of climate and other environmental and societal threats to large water management infrastructure. To effectively reduce risk and increase resiliency requires as a prerequisite the determination of the major threats to local and regional water supplies and quality from weather including those from extreme flood and drought events, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified, the relative risks can be compared in order to adopt optimal preferred mitigation/adaptation strategies. This is a more inclusive way of assessing risks, including from climate variability and human and natural climate change, than using the outcome vulnerability approach adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This “contextual vulnerability” assessment using the bottom-up, resource-based framework is a more inclusive approach for policymakers dealing with water management infrastructure to adopt effective mitigation and adaptation methodologies to deal with the complexity of the spectrum of social and environmental events that will occur in the coming decades.



The authors want to thank Dallas Staley for her usual outstanding editorial support.


  1. Adger WN (1999) Social vulnerability to climate change and extremes in coastal Vietnam. World Develop 27:249–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Castro CL, Pielke RA Sr, Adegoke J, Schubert SD, Pegion PJ (2007) Investigation of the summer climate of the contiguous U.S. and Mexico using the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS). Part II: model climate variability. J Climate 20:3866–3887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dawson A, Palmer TN, Corti S (2012) Simulating regime structures in weather and climate prediction models. Res Letts, Geophys. Scholar
  4. Eastman JL, Coughenour MB, Pielke RA (2001) The effects of CO2 and landscape change using a coupled plant and meteorological model. Glob Change Biol 7:797–815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Flanner MG, Zender CS, Randerson JT, Rasch PJ (2007) Present-day climate forcing and response from black carbon in snow. J Geophys Res 112:D11202. Scholar
  6. Füssel H-M (2007) Vulnerability: a generally applicable conceptual framework for climate change research. Glob Environ Change 17:155–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Füssel H-M (2009) Review and quantitative analysis of indices of climate change exposure, adaptive capacity, sensitivity, and impacts. Development and climate change: background note to the world development report 2010, 35 pp. Available online at
  8. Galloway JN et al (2004) Nitrogen cycles: past, present, and future. Biogeochemistry 70(2):153–226. Scholar
  9. Hossain F, Jeyachandran I, Pielke RA Sr (2010) Dam safety effects due to human alteration of extreme precipitation. Water Resour Res 46:W03301. Scholar
  10. Hossain F, Niyogi D, Adegoke J, Kallos G, Pielke R Sr (2011) Making sense of the water resources that will be available for future use. EOS Trans AGU 92(17):144. Scholar
  11. Hossain F, Degu AM, Yigzaw W, Burian SJ, Niyogi D, Shepherd JM, Pielke Sr RA (2012) Climate feedback–based provisions for dam design, operations, and water management in the 21st century. J Hydro Eng 17:837–850. Scholar
  12. IPCC (2013) In: Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner G-K, Tignor M, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM (eds) Climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 1535 pp. Available online:
  13. Kabat P, Claussen M, Dirmeyer PA, Gash JHC, Bravo de Guenni L, Meybeck M, Pielke Sr. RA, Vorosmarty CJ, Hutjes RWA, Lutkemeier S (eds) ( 2004) Vegetation, water, humans and the climate: a new perspective on an interactive system. Springer, Berlin, 566 pp (Global Change—The IGBP Series)Google Scholar
  14. Kundzewicz ZW, Stakhiv EZ (2010) Are climate models “ready for prime time” in water resources management applications, or is more research needed? Editorial Hydrol Sci J 55(7):1085–1089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lukas et al (2014) Climate change in colorado: a synthesis to support water resources management and adaptation, 2nd edn.
  16. Mahmood R, Pielke Sr. RA, Hubbard K, Niyogi D, Dirmeyer P, McAlpine C, Carleton A, Hale R, Gameda S, Beltrán-Przekurat A, Baker B, McNider R, Legates D, Shepherd J, Du J, Blanken P, Frauenfeld O, Nair U, Fall S (2013) Land cover changes and their biogeophysical effects on climate. Int J Climatol Scholar
  17. Marshall CH Jr, Pielke RA Sr, Steyaert LT, Willard DA (2004) The impact of anthropogenic land-cover change on the Florida peninsula sea breezes and warm season sensible weather. Mon Weather Rev 132:28–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Matsui T, Pielke RA Sr (2006) Measurement-based estimation of the spatial gradient of aerosol radiative forcing. Geophys Res Letts 33:L11813. Scholar
  19. McCarthy JJ, Canziani OF, Leary NA, Dokken DJ, White KS (eds) (2001) Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  20. NRC (2005) Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on radiative forcing effects on climate change, Climate Research Committee, Board on atmospheric sciences and climate. Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 ppGoogle Scholar
  21. O’Brien KL, Eriksen S, Nygaard L, Schjolden A (2007) Why different interpretations of vulnerability matter in climate change discourses. Clim Policy 7(1):73–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Palmer TN, Doblas-Reyes FJ, Weisheimer A, Rodwell MJ (2008) Toward seamless prediction: calibration of climate change projections using seasonal forecasts. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 89:459–470. Scholar
  23. Pielke Sr, RA (2013) Mesoscale meteorological modeling, 3rd edn. Academic Press, Cambridge, 760 ppGoogle Scholar
  24. Pielke RA Sr, Wilby RL (2012) Regional climate downscaling—what’s the point? Eos Forum 93(5):52–53. Scholar
  25. Pielke RA Sr, Marland G, Betts RA, Chase TN, Eastman JL, Niles JO, Niyogi D, Running S (2002) The influence of land-use change and landscape dynamics on the climate system-relevance to climate change policy beyond the radiative effect of greenhouse gases. Phil Trans A. Special Theme Issue 360:1705–1719Google Scholar
  26. Pielke Sr. RA, Bravo de Guenni L (2004) Conclusions. Chapter E.7 In: Kabat P, et al (eds) Vegetation, water, humans and the climate: a new perspective on an interactive system. Global change—the IGBP series. Springer, pp 537–538Google Scholar
  27. Pielke Sr. RA, Wilby R, Niyogi D, Hossain F, Dairaku K, Adegoke J, Kallos G, Seastedt T, Suding K (2012) Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. Extreme events and natural hazards: the complexity perspective geophysical monograph series 196. American Geophysical Union, Scholar
  28. Rial J, Pielke RA Sr, Beniston M, Claussen M, Canadell J, Cox P, Held H, de Noblet-Ducoudre N, Prinn R, Reynolds J, Salas JD (2004) Nonlinearities, feedbacks and critical thresholds within the Earth’s climate system. Clim Change 65:11–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rosenfeld D, Lohmann U, Raga GB, O’Dowd CD, Kulmala M, Fuzzi S, Reissell A, Andreae MO (2008) Flood or drought: how do aerosols affect precipitation? Science 321(5894):1309–1313. Scholar
  30. Stephens GL, L’Ecuyer T, Forbes R, Gettlemen A, Golaz J-C, Bodas-Salcedo A, Suzuki K, Gabriel P, Haynes J (2010) Dreary state of precipitation in global models. J Geophys Res 115:D24211. Scholar
  31. Sveinsson OGB, Salas JD, Boes DC, Pielke RA Sr (2003) Modeling of long-term variability of hydroclimatic processes. J Hydrometeor 4:489–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Takata K, Saito K, Yasunari T (2009) Changes in the Asian monsoon climate during 1700–1850 induced by preindustrial cultivation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:9586–9589. Scholar
  33. Taylor et al (2012) Afternoon rain more likely over drier soils. Nature. Received 19 Mar 2012, Accepted 29 June 2012, Published online 12 Sept 2012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. US National Assessment (2014)

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations