Was the Hinckley Reservoir crisis in 2007 the result of global warming? Not necessarily. Local dry periods and floods in recent years more likely reflect cyclical changes, some experts say.
Was the Hinckley Reservoir crisis in 2007 the result of global warming?
Local dry periods and floods in recent years more likely reflect cyclical changes, some experts say.
Still, officials need to have management and conservation plans in place to deal with sporadic weather, said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for the National Center for Public Policy Research.
“You should always be ready for anything just because of the unpredictable nature of weather,” Knight said. “In a great sense, you are at the mercy of it.”
Plans should factor in scenarios involving various weather conditions, he said.
“Weather patterns are cyclical,” he said. “We go through wet spells. We go through dry spells. The only constant with climate and weather is that it’s always changing.”
Hamilton College biology professor Ernest Williams said he doesn’t expect reduced overall precipitation in the future but thinks there will be more variability in precipitation locally.
As the climate warms, there can be enhanced evaporation, but that also makes more rain possible, Williams said.
Isolated dry periods aren’t sure signs of global warming, but if the climate does warm, there will be greater floods and droughts, he said.
“With increasing variability in weather patterns, that’s a factor that managers will have to keep in mind,” he said.
But what happened at Hinckley Reservoir was because of more than just a dry period, he said.
“It surprised me, but it’s not just weather,” he said. “It’s also based on human decision.”
Generally, the Mohawk Valley’s water supply is better prepared for possible climate changes than many areas of the country with less water, Williams said.
State Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, said he isn’t sure if the weather in 2007 was the result of global warming or normal weather patterns.
Creative management plans need to be in place to deal with possible climate changes, he said.
“I think it might be a little dangerous to rely on historical data when we make decisions about what lies ahead,” he said.