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U.S. proposes adaptive management of water to face climate change

A report by U.S. agencies charged with weather prediction and water resources management calls for a policy of heightened monitoring and adaptive management of resources to prepare for anticipated climate change from global warming.

The U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation issued a joint report, "Climate Change and Water Resources Management: A Federal Perspective." They said the study presents the best available science to help better manage and preserve the nation's water resources in the face of a changing climate.

"To ensure that water managers are prepared for the effects of climate change, they will need to assess regional climate change projections and adopt flexible management strategies," the agencies said in a joint statement. "Practicing an adaptive management approach would allow managers to make decisions sequentially over time, and may be especially useful to cope with the uncertainties of climate change."

The report said long-term monitoring networks are critical for detecting and quantifying climate change and its effects. It said monitoring needs to focus on locations that describe the "climate signal," such as upstream and downstream from major water management infrastructure or in vulnerable ecological reaches.

The agencies said adaptation options in the face of climate change include operational, demand management, and infrastructure changes to the water resources system.

"This report is a first step," the document says. "The agencies will next address the knowledge, technology, and research gaps, and the monitoring strategies for improving understanding and aiding in decisionmaking. Although the report does not offer recommendations, it does lay a foundation for future climate change actions."

The report may be obtained for the U.S. Geological Survey Internet site at http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1331.

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