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Using large climate ensembles to plan for the hydrological impact of climate change in the freshwater environment

Fung, Fai, Watts, Glenn, Lopez, Ana, Orr, Harriet G., New, Mark and Extence, Chris (2013) Using large climate ensembles to plan for the hydrological impact of climate change in the freshwater environment. Water Resources Management, 27 (4). pp. 1063-1084. ISSN 0920-4741

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11269-012-0080-7


We explore the use of large ensembles of climate scenarios to inform climate change adaptation in response to hydrological impacts on the freshwater environment, using a sensitive chalk river in south east England to illustrate the approach. The experiment provides large ensembles of transient climate series from 1920 to 2080. We use 246 transient climate series in the CATCHMOD rainfall-run-off model to develop large ensembles of plausible river flows for the River Itchen. This transient ensemble allows the exploration of how flows may change through the twenty-first century, and demonstrates the range of possible consequences for freshwater ecosystems, based on invertebrate community impacts. Hydrological modelling of flow sequences including abstraction allows the continued effectiveness of river support from groundwater to be assessed. A new environmental impact matrix considers the response of the freshwater ecosystem in the Itchen, concentrating particularly on macro-invertebrates. Through the century increasing numbers of models fail the flow targets, with a minority of models suggesting flows that would lead to irreversible change to the invertebrate community. The large ensemble provides a richer picture of the range of possible change, allowing managers to explore a range of different responses. The approach used is illustrative, but demonstrates that large ensembles may be of great value in improving the understanding of the possible impact of climate change, provided that they can be communicated effectively to decision-makers.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2012 13:33
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:34
Projects: SC050045
Funders: Environment Agency Science Project, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change

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