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The Usefulness of Streamflow Reconstructions: Understanding the Management Perspective
  • Connie Woodhouse
Connie Woodhouse
University of Arizona

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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The usefulness of extended records of streamflow from tree-ring based hydrologic reconstructions seems obvious- a longer record provides a broader range of the variability of extremes and allows recent and/or ongoing events to be evaluated in a long-term context. The information from these centuries-long records may have clear implications for water resource management, but it is often unclear exactly how this information can be applied to management. In this presentation, I will discuss some of the challenges I have observed that are involved in using streamflow reconstructions in management decisions. These range from issues related to an agency’s capacity to use new types of data to mismatches between what is needed (e.g., daily resolution, a network of gage inputs) and what reconstruction data provide. The skillfulness of a streamflow reconstruction also has a bearing on its perceived credibility in terms of useable data. In spite of these challenges, there is a variety of ways that these data have been used by water resource managers in the western US. The uses are often not immediately evident, but can take the form of, for example, sensitively assessment, awareness raising, and shifts in prior assumptions. Relationship building between researchers and resource managers can yield mutual respect and understanding that lead to both interesting research questions and relevant and valuable information, even if the application to management is not tangible or immediate.