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Using regional climate model data to simulate historical and future river flows in northwest England

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Hayley Fowler, Professor Chris Kilsby



Daily rainfall and temperature data were extracted from the multi-ensemble HadRM3H regional climate model (RCM) integrations for control (1960-1990) and future (2070-2100) time-slices. This dynamically downscaled output was bias-corrected on observed mean statistics and used as input to hydrological models calibrated for eight catchments which are critical water resources in northwest England. Simulated daily flow distributions matched observed from Q95 to Q5, suggesting that RCM data can be used with some confidence to examine future changes in flow regime. Under the SRES A2 (UKCIP02 Medium-High) scenario, annual runoff is projected to increase slightly at high elevation catchments, but reduce by ∼16% at lower elevations. Impacts on monthly flow distribution are significant, with summer reductions of 40-80% of 1961-90 mean flow, and winter increases of up to 20%. This changing seasonality has a large impact on low flows, with Q95 projected to decrease in magnitude by 40-80% in summer months, with serious consequences for water abstractions and river ecology. In contrast, high flows (> Q5) are projected to increase in magnitude by up to 25%, particularly at high elevation catchments, providing an increased risk of flooding during winter months. These changes will have implications for management of water resources and ecologically important areas under the EU Water Framework Directive. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fowler HJ, Kilsby CG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Climatic Change

Year: 2007

Volume: 80

Issue: 3-4

Pages: 337-367

Date deposited: 12/05/2010

ISSN (print): 0165-0009

ISSN (electronic): 1573-1480

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s10584-006-9117-3


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