Uncertainty assessment of climate change impacts on the hydrology of small prairie wetlands

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DOIResolve DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.10.037
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Journal titleJournal of Hydrology
Pages94103; # of pages: 10
SubjectClimate change, prairie hydrology, downscaling, wetlands, weather generator, uncertainty
AbstractWith increasing evidences of climate change in the prairie region, there is an urgent need to understand the future climate and the responses of small prairie wetlands. This study integrated two regional climate models (RCMs), two weather generators and a distributed hydrological model to examine uncertainties in hydrological responses to climate change in the Assiniboia watershed, Canada. Compared to baseline conditions (1971 - 2000), the annual water yield and evapotranspiration in the period of 2041 - 2070 were forecasted to be generally unchanged, while the annual reservoir storage was projected to be generally reduced. However, projected hydrological regimes were less consistent at a monthly level, particularly for March and July. Such uncertainties in simulated hydrological responses were derived from the implementations of different integrated downscaling methods, reflecting our imperfect knowledge of future climate. We identified a warming temperature trend from climatic projections, but had less confidence in the future pattern of precipitation. Uncertainties in integrated downscaling were primarily derived from the choice of RCM, and were amplified through the incorporation of different weather generators. Results of any climate change study based on only one RCM and one weather generator should be interpreted with caution, and the ensemble framework should be advised to generate a comprehensive vision of the future climate. This study demonstrated that the incorporation of precipitation occurrence change contributed to a full translation of RCM outputs, but introduced additional uncertainty. A balance is thus desired between the information loss and the additional uncertainty in order to effectively utilize RCM outputs.
Publication date
AffiliationNRC Institute for Research in Construction; National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedYes
NRC number54504
NPARC number20374815
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Record identifier9be62135-4f09-417e-9b30-ad7aa3d14a13
Record created2012-07-23
Record modified2016-05-09
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