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If Stationarity is Dead, What Do We Do Now?


  • Gerald E. Galloway

    1. Professor of Engineering, Glenn L. Martin Institute, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742
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  • Paper No. JAWRA-10-0068-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA).Discussions are open until six months from print publication.



Galloway, Gerald E., 2011. If Stationarity Is Dead, What Do We Do Now? Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 47(3):563-570. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00550.x

Abstract:  In January 2010, hydrologists, climatologists, engineers, and scientists met in Boulder, Colorado, to discuss the report of the death of hydrologic stationarity and the implications this might have on water resources planning and operations in the United States and abroad. For decades planners have relied on design guidance from the Interagency Advisory Committee on Water Data Bulletin 17B that was based upon the concept of stationarity. After 2½ days of discussion it became clear that the assembled community had yet to reach an agreement on whether or not to replace the assumption of stationarity with an assumption of nonstationarity or something else. Hydrologists were skeptical that data gathered to this point in the 21st Century point to any significant change in river parameters. Climatologists, on the other hand, point to climate change and the predicted shift away from current conditions to a more turbulent flood and drought filled future. Both groups are challenged to provide immediate guidance to those individuals in and outside the water community who today must commit funds and efforts on projects that will require the best estimates of future conditions. The workshop surfaced many approaches to dealing with these challenges. While there is good reason to support additional study of the death of stationarity, its implications, and new approaches, there is also a great need to provide those in the field the information they require now to plan, design, and operate today’s projects.