Climate impacts on river flow: Projections for the Medway catchment, UK, with UKCP09 and CATCHMOD

H. L. Cloke*, C. Jeffers, F. Wetterhall, T. Byrne, J. Lowe, F. Pappenberger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The potential impact of climate change on areas of strategic importance for water resources remains a concern. Here, river flow projections for the River Medway, above Teston in southeast England are presented, which is just such an area of strategic importance. The river flow projections use climate inputs from the Hadley Centre Regional Climate Model (HadRM3) for the time period 1960-2080 (a subset of the early release UKCP09 projections). River flow predictions are calculated using CATCHMOD, the main river flow prediction tool of the Environment Agency (EA) of England and Wales. In order to use this tool in the best way for climate change predictions, model setup and performance are analysed using sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. The model's representation of hydrological processes is discussed and the direct percolation and first linear storage constant parameters are found to strongly affect model results in a complex way, with the former more important for low flows and the latter for high flows. The uncertainty in predictions resulting from the hydrological model parameters is demonstrated and the projections of river flow under future climate are analysed. A clear climate change impact signal is evident in the results with a persistent lowering of mean daily river flows for all months and for all projection time slices. Results indicate that a projection of lower flows under future climate is valid even taking into account the uncertainties considered in this modelling chain exercise. The model parameter uncertainty becomes more significant under future climate as the river flows become lower. This has significant implications for those making policy decisions based on such modelling results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3476-3489
Number of pages14
JournalHydrological Processes
Volume24
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Ensembles
  • River flow
  • Uncertainties
  • Water resources

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