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A Statistical Graphical Model of the California Reservoir System

Taeb, A. and Reager, J. T. and Turmon, M. and Chandrasekaran, V. (2017) A Statistical Graphical Model of the California Reservoir System. Water Resources Research, 53 (11). pp. 9721-9739. ISSN 0043-1397. doi:10.1002/2017WR020412.

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The recent California drought has highlighted the potential vulnerability of the state's water management infrastructure to multiyear dry intervals. Due to the high complexity of the network, dynamic storage changes in California reservoirs on a state-wide scale have previously been difficult to model using either traditional statistical or physical approaches. Indeed, although there is a significant line of research on exploring models for single (or a small number of) reservoirs, these approaches are not amenable to a system-wide modeling of the California reservoir network due to the spatial and hydrological heterogeneities of the system. In this work, we develop a state-wide statistical graphical model to characterize the dependencies among a collection of 55 major California reservoirs across the state; this model is defined with respect to a graph in which the nodes index reservoirs and the edges specify the relationships or dependencies between reservoirs. We obtain and validate this model in a data-driven manner based on reservoir volumes over the period 2003–2016. A key feature of our framework is a quantification of the effects of external phenomena that influence the entire reservoir network. We further characterize the degree to which physical factors (e.g., state-wide Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), average temperature, snow pack) and economic factors (e.g., consumer price index, number of agricultural workers) explain these external influences. As a consequence of this analysis, we obtain a system-wide health diagnosis of the reservoir network as a function of PDSI.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Taeb, A.0000-0002-5647-3160
Reager, J. T.0000-0001-7575-2520
Turmon, M.0000-0002-6463-063X
Alternate Title:California Reservoir Drought Sensitivity and Exhaustion Risk Using Statistical Graphical Models
Additional Information:© 2017 American Geophysical Union. Received 13 JAN 2017; Accepted 14 OCT 2017; Accepted article online 20 OCT 2017. The authors were supported in part by NSF Career award CCF-1350590, by Air Force Office of Scientific Research grants FA9550-14-1–0098 and FA9550-16-1–0210, by a Sloan research fellowship, and the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech. A portion of this research was conducted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with NASA. The data set and the code to produce the results of this paper can be found at
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)FA9550-14-1-0098
Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)FA9550-16-1-021
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:water resources; sustainability; graphical models; latent variables; convex optimization
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171020-154910322
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Taeb, A., Reager, J. T., Turmon, M., & Chandrasekaran, V. (2017). A statistical graphical model of the California reservoir system. Water Resources Research, 53, 9721–9739.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:82556
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:20 Oct 2017 23:01
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 19:51

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