Hydrology Consulting

by Tim

El Nino Southern Oscillation

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.

Comments for Hydrology Consulting

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

by: Anonymous

It sounds like this model and consulting business has potential. As has been pointed out, finding potential clients and marketing the value that you offer over free forecasts is key. I'd like to see how this model compares to the accuracy of traditional models. If it is more accurate and a potential client can be convinced that the cost of the consulting will provide enough of a return then it may take off. How much more accurate would a forecast have to be to make it worth the cost of the consulting services? In what specific ways would potential clients be able to use this information to improve their bottom line? Would agricultural businesses be able to use these forecast to predict water availability for the next growing season and adjust their crops to maximize outputs for the predicted water supply?

It's a good start, it just needs more details on how it can benefit potential clients.

From Barry - It's important to know the exact accuracy of the forecast, the type of data used, and any assumptions or limitations. Also, potential clients would need to know how the forecast can improve their bottom line, like how much input to buy, what crops to grow, and when to plant them.

Furthermore, agricultural businesses would need to know if a forecast can predict water availability and how it can be used to adjust crops to maximize output.

Who can benefit most from this?
by: Anonymous

You need to find out who can use this kind of research, who can use it in their own business. Find out who could make money from this kind of research and there's your audience.

From Barry - As an originator, I need to create content that resonates with the people who can benefit from the research. I might then make the content user-friendly and easy to understand, and include visuals to help explain the concepts. A good writer should also create content tailored to the audience's industry and specific needs.

One of the most interesting reads
by: Anonymous

This is definitely one of the most interesting reads I've has recently. However, same as other person who commented above me, I wonder who will buy this.

From Barry - I think this would appeal to a very narrow (i.e., specialized) audience. There generally aren't enough people who would be interested in buying a book about a niche topic.

Innovative and Interesting
by: Amit

Hi,your idea seems to be great,and hopefully you will get a good platform soon so that people can understand about it.

From Barry - You can stand out from your competitors if you're creative and have a unique idea. Your idea can succeed with the right platform and marketing strategy.

Interesting but who would buy it?
by: Anonymous

I liked the concept but for my needs, I can go to www.weather.com - who would benefit from this material? Once you find that audience, then market this to them.

From Barry - Your audience could be people who like researching the weather, people who travel, people who make decisions based on the weather forecast, or people who just like to keep track of it. Any of these groups of people would benefit from this material.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Math rules!.

Do you have concerns about air pollution in your area??

Perhaps modelling air pollution will provide the answers to your question.

That is what I do on a full-time basis.  Find out if it is necessary for your project.

Have your Say...

on the StuffintheAir         facebook page

Other topics listed in these guides:

The Stuff in the Air Site Map


See the newsletter chronicle. 

Thank you to my research and writing assistants, ChatGPT and WordTune, as well as Wombo and others for the images.

GPT-4, OpenAI's large-scale language generation model (and others provided by Google and Meta), helped generate this text.  As soon as draft language is generated, the author reviews, edits, and revises it to their own liking and is responsible for the content.