Seasonal Hydroclimatic Forecasts as Innovations and the Challenges of Adoption by Water Managers

TitleSeasonal Hydroclimatic Forecasts as Innovations and the Challenges of Adoption by Water Managers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsWhateley, Sarah, Palmer Richard N., and Brown Casey
JournalJournal of Water Resources Planning and Management
Date Published09/2014
Keywordsclimate change, Decision support systems, forecasting, Innovation, management, water management

Technological advances in forecasting the Earth’s climate offer a potentially useful tool to support planning and management decisions in water resources. Previous research has found that the implementation of new ideas and practices are impeded by many challenges such as low forecast skill, institutional obstacles, and political disincentives to innovation. To better understand barriers to forecast use at seasonal-to-interannual, decadal, or longer time scales, this paper evaluates a diffusion of innovations (DoI) framework to assess the adoption of hydroclimatic forecasts by water managers in the Northeast United States. Specifically, this paper seeks to understand how five innovation characteristics, relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability, influence the rate of adoption. Methods used for this analysis include the distribution of a survey, interviews, and a literature review. Results indicated that while much attention has focused on institutional obstacles, in the Connecticut River Basin obstacles were related to characteristics of the forecasts themselves. Evaluation of the DoI makes clear that the challenges to forecast use are common to all innovations.