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Multi-model ensemble projections of European river floods and high flows at 1.5, 2, and 3 degrees global warming

Multi-model ensemble projections of European river floods and high flows at 1.5, 2, and 3 degrees global warming
Multi-model ensemble projections of European river floods and high flows at 1.5, 2, and 3 degrees global warming
Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. Severe river floods often result in huge economic losses and fatalities. Since 1980, almost 1500 such events have been reported in Europe. This study investigates climate change impacts on European floods under 1.5, 2, and 3 K global warming. The impacts are assessed employing a multi-model ensemble containing three hydrologic models (HMs: mHM, Noah-MP, PCR-GLOBWB) forced by five CMIP5 general circulation models (GCMs) under three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs 2.6, 6.0, and 8.5). This multi-model ensemble is unprecedented with respect to the combination of its size (45 realisations) and its spatial resolution, which is 5 km over the entirety of Europe. Climate change impacts are quantified for high flows and flood events, represented by 10% exceedance probability and annual maxima of daily streamflow, respectively. The multi-model ensemble points to the Mediterranean region as a hotspot of changes with significant decrements in high flows from -11% at 1.5 K up to -30% at 3 K global warming mainly resulting from reduced precipitation. Small changes ( < ±10%) are observed for river basins in Central Europe and the British Isles under different levels of warming. Projected higher annual precipitation increases high flows in Scandinavia, but reduced snow melt equivalent decreases flood events in this region. Neglecting uncertainties originating from internal climate variability, downscaling technique, and hydrologic model parameters, the contribution by the GCMs to the overall uncertainties of the ensemble is in general higher than that by the HMs. The latter, however, have a substantial share in the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. Adaptation measures for limiting the impacts of global warming could be similar under 1.5 K and 2 K global warming, but have to account for significantly higher changes under 3 K global warming.
1.5 degree global warming, climate change, Europe, floods, mHM, Noah-MP, PCR-GLOBWB
1748-9318
Thober, Stephan
9f97d904-8cf8-4555-b836-e213013cdabb
Kumar, Rohini
b0ac1bbd-dfd8-4dcc-8bd5-6ffe11519b1a
Wanders, Niko
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Marx, Andreas
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Pan, Ming
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Rakovec, Oldrich
1e14032e-8e6c-4359-975c-e5db95107d71
Samaniego, Luis
c1966ab3-ef68-4490-ba2a-0eaa85267365
Sheffield, Justin
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Wood, Eric F.
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Zink, Matthias
fe187f40-5690-40df-8c47-cce864e23e71
Thober, Stephan
9f97d904-8cf8-4555-b836-e213013cdabb
Kumar, Rohini
b0ac1bbd-dfd8-4dcc-8bd5-6ffe11519b1a
Wanders, Niko
5db872d0-14a1-41b7-8a15-8923fed069f3
Marx, Andreas
a01c049b-b443-4a7d-9afe-873cfe03ee4c
Pan, Ming
9f6dfdc0-e281-4985-8e4d-0ce9537bd39f
Rakovec, Oldrich
1e14032e-8e6c-4359-975c-e5db95107d71
Samaniego, Luis
c1966ab3-ef68-4490-ba2a-0eaa85267365
Sheffield, Justin
dd66575b-a4dc-4190-ad95-df2d6aaaaa6b
Wood, Eric F.
d3502797-65b0-487f-bd87-e3f45805a60b
Zink, Matthias
fe187f40-5690-40df-8c47-cce864e23e71

Thober, Stephan, Kumar, Rohini, Wanders, Niko, Marx, Andreas, Pan, Ming, Rakovec, Oldrich, Samaniego, Luis, Sheffield, Justin, Wood, Eric F. and Zink, Matthias (2018) Multi-model ensemble projections of European river floods and high flows at 1.5, 2, and 3 degrees global warming. Environmental Research Letters, 13 (1), [014003]. (doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa9e35).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. Severe river floods often result in huge economic losses and fatalities. Since 1980, almost 1500 such events have been reported in Europe. This study investigates climate change impacts on European floods under 1.5, 2, and 3 K global warming. The impacts are assessed employing a multi-model ensemble containing three hydrologic models (HMs: mHM, Noah-MP, PCR-GLOBWB) forced by five CMIP5 general circulation models (GCMs) under three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs 2.6, 6.0, and 8.5). This multi-model ensemble is unprecedented with respect to the combination of its size (45 realisations) and its spatial resolution, which is 5 km over the entirety of Europe. Climate change impacts are quantified for high flows and flood events, represented by 10% exceedance probability and annual maxima of daily streamflow, respectively. The multi-model ensemble points to the Mediterranean region as a hotspot of changes with significant decrements in high flows from -11% at 1.5 K up to -30% at 3 K global warming mainly resulting from reduced precipitation. Small changes ( < ±10%) are observed for river basins in Central Europe and the British Isles under different levels of warming. Projected higher annual precipitation increases high flows in Scandinavia, but reduced snow melt equivalent decreases flood events in this region. Neglecting uncertainties originating from internal climate variability, downscaling technique, and hydrologic model parameters, the contribution by the GCMs to the overall uncertainties of the ensemble is in general higher than that by the HMs. The latter, however, have a substantial share in the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. Adaptation measures for limiting the impacts of global warming could be similar under 1.5 K and 2 K global warming, but have to account for significantly higher changes under 3 K global warming.

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Thober_2018_Environ._Res._Lett._13_014003 - Version of Record
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 29 November 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 3 January 2018
Published date: January 2018
Keywords: 1.5 degree global warming, climate change, Europe, floods, mHM, Noah-MP, PCR-GLOBWB

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 417827
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/417827
ISSN: 1748-9318
PURE UUID: 6a122d2d-bc29-483a-83a9-b692b3d8c1c6
ORCID for Justin Sheffield: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2400-0630

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Date deposited: 15 Feb 2018 17:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 02:08

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