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Evaluation of different downscaling techniques for hydrological climate-change impact studies at the catchment scale


Teutschbein, C; Wetterhall, F; Seibert, Jan (2011). Evaluation of different downscaling techniques for hydrological climate-change impact studies at the catchment scale. Climate Dynamics, 37(9-10):2087-2105.

Abstract

Hydrological modeling for climate-change impact assessment implies using meteorological variables simulated by global climate models (GCMs). Due to mismatching scales, coarse-resolution GCM output cannot be used directly for hydrological impact studies but rather needs to be downscaled. In this study, we investigated the variability of seasonal streamflow and flood-peak projections caused by the use of three statistical approaches to downscale precipitation from two GCMs for a meso-scale catchment in southeastern Sweden: (1) an analog method (AM), (2) a multi-objective fuzzy-rule-based classification (MOFRBC) and (3) the Statistical DownScaling Model (SDSM). The obtained higher-resolution precipitation values were then used to simulate daily streamflow for a control period (1961–1990) and for two future emission scenarios (2071–2100) with the precipitation-streamflow model HBV. The choice of downscaled precipitation time series had a major impact on the streamflow simulations, which was directly related to the ability of the downscaling approaches to reproduce observed precipitation. Although SDSM was considered to be most suitable for downscaling precipitation in the studied river basin, we highlighted the importance of an ensemble approach. The climate and streamflow change signals indicated that the current flow regime with a snowmelt-driven spring flood in April will likely change to a flow regime that is rather dominated by large winter streamflows. Spring flood events are expected to decrease considerably and occur earlier, whereas autumn flood peaks are projected to increase slightly. The simulations demonstrated that projections of future streamflow regimes are highly variable and can even partly point towards different directions.

Hydrological modeling for climate-change impact assessment implies using meteorological variables simulated by global climate models (GCMs). Due to mismatching scales, coarse-resolution GCM output cannot be used directly for hydrological impact studies but rather needs to be downscaled. In this study, we investigated the variability of seasonal streamflow and flood-peak projections caused by the use of three statistical approaches to downscale precipitation from two GCMs for a meso-scale catchment in southeastern Sweden: (1) an analog method (AM), (2) a multi-objective fuzzy-rule-based classification (MOFRBC) and (3) the Statistical DownScaling Model (SDSM). The obtained higher-resolution precipitation values were then used to simulate daily streamflow for a control period (1961–1990) and for two future emission scenarios (2071–2100) with the precipitation-streamflow model HBV. The choice of downscaled precipitation time series had a major impact on the streamflow simulations, which was directly related to the ability of the downscaling approaches to reproduce observed precipitation. Although SDSM was considered to be most suitable for downscaling precipitation in the studied river basin, we highlighted the importance of an ensemble approach. The climate and streamflow change signals indicated that the current flow regime with a snowmelt-driven spring flood in April will likely change to a flow regime that is rather dominated by large winter streamflows. Spring flood events are expected to decrease considerably and occur earlier, whereas autumn flood peaks are projected to increase slightly. The simulations demonstrated that projections of future streamflow regimes are highly variable and can even partly point towards different directions.

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51 citations in Web of Science®
55 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:17 Nov 2011 12:29
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:06
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0930-7575
Publisher DOI:10.1007/s00382-010-0979-8

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