El Nino Southern Oscillation
I have a new hydrology consulting idea. I am a civil engineer specializing in computer modeling of hydrologic phenomena. My primary interest is in finding ways to predict water supply farther in the future. I am very familiar with the ESP techniques.
However, I have a problem with them. I think the approach is based on a flawed assumption, thus making the answers misleading at best.
I have been involved in water supply forecasting for many years. As you must know, El Nino tends to cause the Northwest US to be dry and the SW US to be wet.
La Nina reverses these. Two things caught my attention. First, there is a band between the two that can be either wet or dry in any year. ENSO conditions don't give strong guidance. Secondly, although the NW tends to be dry in an El Nino, it is not always so and the entire NW isn't always the same (all wet or all dry).
In an effort to better predict the effect of ENSO and thus increase the lead time for water supply forecasting, I developed a model that uses ENSO conditions to predict quarterly snow accumulation in the mountains of southern Idaho (in the either-way band). My model predicts if the snow accumulation for the quarter will be near-average, above near-average, or below near-average. The forecasts are produced about 2.5 months before the start of the accumulation period. Early versions of the model were correct more than 65 percent of the time. Preliminary testing showed very favorable results for predicing snow accumulation in southern BC and northwestern MT. Other tests showed favorable results for low elevation rain in south central Washington state.
When used for water supply forecasting, ESP models use current basin conditions, sometimes use a short term weather forecast, and then use all/many historical weather data to predict possible flow volumes for the future. This approach is based on the assumption that all historical weather patterns have equal probability of occurance in the future. My concern is simple: My research has convinced me that not all historical weather patterns have an equal probability of occurance. Some users of the ESP approach try to weight the input in favor of El Nino or La Nina years depending on the current conditions. My work has shown me that this is marginal at best in the NW and SW US, and not applicable in the in-between band.
From the water supply perspective, in October, I can give you a pretty good idea what the following summer's snow melt runoff water supply will look like. ESP runs assuming randomness for the winter weather will be misleading.
I am confident that my model could be applied to other portions of the US and Canada. Mexico is not out of the question. I can try the model for other forecast areas relatively easy if I have the data. However, time availability has been an issue lately for me so I don't want to waste anymore time on this unless I find some interest.
So, what is my problem? It is two-fold. First, the marketing research I've done shows that most people are content using the free forecasts available on the internet rather than paying for a forecast. Secondly, I don't have enough initials after my name to convince people I have any idea what I'm talking about.
I'm just knocking on doors, looking for the right person or organization to work with, or other opportunity working by myself, to pursue some currently undefined options. I would like to start using the model to predict water supply
for larger portions of the west. Or, for the agricultural areas of the mid-west. Or Canada. I haven't tried it yet, but I suspect I might be able to do something with temperature forecasts using my model (warm/average/cool). That might lead to opportunities for energy supply companies to use the results.Barry's Response
- Tim, I think you're developing something for which there's a real demand.
Finding the right niche is the key.
Think about who your target client is. Government? Agriculture? Academia? You might be able to make some real money with this hydrological consulting business once you figure these things out.Search
this site for more information now.
This hydrology consulting idea has some real potential.
You've identified a flaw in the current methods, and your model may be more accurate. You've got to package your expertise and innovation in a way that's irresistible.
Start by partnering with existing weather forecasting services
or environmental consulting companies. And a new model could make them stand out in the market. Sell it as a valuable addition to their existing services.
The second thing you should do is expand your application areas. You don't have to limit yourself to the US and Canada; explore the world. Your model could be a game-changer in various contexts caused by climate change.
Data is king. Make sure your model's predictions are backed up by solid data sources and analytics. Your case gets stronger the more data you have.
Don't let those initials after your name hold you back. Your results and work speak for themselves. Validate your findings with academics or institutions. People will take notice once you have that scientific backing.
Last but not least, marketing is key. Demonstrate your model's accuracy with case studies.
Let potential clients know what your services can do for them.
Steve Jobs didn't just invent the iPhone; he marketed it. Think of your hydrology model as your groundbreaking innovation, and market it with the same passion. Maybe you'll change the way we forecast water supplies.