Why predict? On the value of prediction in hydrological sciences and policy

November 2012 update: we are organising this session at EGU2013 also.

Why do we make hydrological predictions? To explain? To decide? What makes a good explanatory model? What makes a good model for policy or decision making? Do they differ? How? Why? How are predictions used in science and in policy?

At the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union, taking place this April in Vienna, Austria, we are organising a session to discuss these topics. “We” includes conveners from Deltares, Delft University of Technology, the University of Exeter, the University of Lisbon, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Utrecht University and the University of Twente.

The session is currently open for submission of abstracts, with a January 17 deadline.

The session brochure includes some more detail. Feel free to distribute! The “official” session description reads:

Predictions are used in both science and in policy making, for testing of scientific hypotheses and decision making respectively. Examples include forecasting of floods and droughts, of availability of water and energy, and prediction for climate change adaptation. Prediction in policy making, however, has an uneasy role, as predictive uncertainties may be large: future boundary conditions are unknown, model parameter values may be less than optimal and the system considered may change over time, thus invalidating the model used.

The present session aims to contribute to a better understanding of the role and value of prediction in science and policy, through real-world examples showing the success and failure of the use of predictions in either discipline.

For the purpose of this session, ‘predictions’ may include different types (e.g. single valued forecasts, probability forecasts and the use of scenarios) for different time scales (short-term, medium-term, long-term) and for different spatial scales (from local to regional to global). Contributions are solicited from both scientists and decision-makers in the field of all earth-science related policy making, including resources management (e.g. of water, energy), natural hazards (e.g. floods, droughts, earthquakes), management of rivers and deltas, and climatic change.

Please note that “value” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “value” in an economic sense. The session is really about the use of predictions.

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