Large turnout at EGU2012-session “Why predict? On the value of prediction in hydrological sciences and policy-making”

This year’s General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union included, for the first time, a session on the role and value of ‘prediction’ in hydrological sciences. The session took place on Monday, April 23rd and was attended by approx. 125 EGU2012-visitors. The room was filled well over capacity and unfortunately, some people were unable to attend as a result.

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Six speakers elaborated on the theme of using hydrological predictions on different time-scales and for different types of decision. Ana Lopez reminded attendees that any prediction of future climate, either single-valued or probabilistic, is a product of a set of underlying assumptions and may be flawed as a result of those being incomplete or incorrect. Robust policy-making must therefore take these uncertainties into account. Jos Timmermans described the challenge of combining the presence of both scientific uncertainty and dynamic complexity in predictive modeling as well as an approach for doing this. A discussion of prediction on medium-range timescales included the case of potential economic value of drought information to support early warning in Africa, as presented by Sonia Quiroga. She showed that timely response to climate variations can help reduce losses in food production.

Views on the use of short-term predictions included the use of forecasts for hydropower management and for flood warning. Marco Latraverse discussed how the quality of an ensemble forecast, expressed in the magnitude of biases in mean and dispersion, affects the economic value thereof in the case of forecasting for hydropower production. Michael Cranston explained how an ensemble of flood predictions can be made useful in the context of flood warning, and which requirements that poses to the quality of the forecast. An additional set of considerations was introduced by Tom Pagano, who discussed the pros and cons of human-operated forecasting systems versus those that produce forecasts without intervention by humans.

In addition to the oral programme, the session consisted of a poster programme which was well-attended also. Contributions to that are described in more detail here.

The session was convened by Jan Verkade, Hessel Winsemius, Marjolijn Haasnoot, Ana Iglesias and Suraje Dessai. Given the large turnout, we will certainly organise this for next year’s conference, which will take place April 7-12, 2013 in Vienna. For more information, please contact Jan Verkade at

Session brochure

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3 Responses to Large turnout at EGU2012-session “Why predict? On the value of prediction in hydrological sciences and policy-making”

  1. Tom Pagano says:

    I was impressed by the turnout. In a large room every seat was filled, people were on the floor, and lining up out the door.

  2. Pingback: Hydrologic forecasting @ EGU2014: it’s time to submit that abstract! | HEPEX

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