When Milly et al. pronounced the death of stationarity in Science magazine last year, lots of folks in the water world took notice. Stationarity is the idea that the envelope of variability we’ve seen is the envelope of variability we’ll get in the future. Not so in a climatically changing world?
Now come Gabriele Villarini and colleagues with an elaborate set of statistical tests poking at peak flow in 50 rivers and saying, in essence, if stationarity is dead they can’t seem to find a corpse:
Despite the profound changes that have occurred to drainage basins throughout the continental United States and the recognition that elements of the hydrologic cycle are being altered by human-induced climate change, it is easier to proclaim the demise of stationarity of flood peaks than to prove it through analyses of annual flood peak data.
Since I don’t begin to understand the technical details of their analysis, I’ll ask the wonks in the audience: Is stationarity back alive?