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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 15, issue 2 | Copyright

Special issue: Uncertainty in climate change impacts on basin-scale freshwater...

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 585-595, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 17 Feb 2011

Research article | 17 Feb 2011

Uncertainty in climate change impacts on water resources in the Rio Grande Basin, Brazil

M. T. Nóbrega1, W. Collischonn2, C. E. M. Tucci2, and A. R. Paz3 M. T. Nóbrega et al.
  • 1Agencia Nacional de Aguas (National Water Agency – Brazil), SPS, Area 5, Quadra 3, Bloco "L", Brazil
  • 2Instituto de Pesquisas Hidráulicas, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
  • 3Depto de Engenharia Civil e Ambiental, Universidade Federal da Paraíba, João Pessoa, Brazil

Abstract. We quantify uncertainty in the impacts of climate change on the discharge of Rio Grande, a major tributary of the Paraná River in South America and one of the most important basins in Brazil for water supply and hydro-electric power generation. We consider uncertainty in climate projections associated with the greenhouse-gas emission scenarios (A1b, A2, B1, B2) and increases in global mean air temperature of 1 to 6° C for the HadCM3 GCM (Global Circulation Model) as well as uncertainties related to GCM structure. For the latter, multimodel runs using 6 GCMs (CCCMA CGCM31, CSIRO Mk30, IPSL CM4, MPI ECHAM5, NCAR CCSM30, UKMO HadGEM1) and HadCM3 as baseline, for a +2° C increase in global mean temperature. Pattern-scaled GCM-outputs are applied to a large-scale hydrological model (MGB-IPH) of Rio Grande Basin. Based on simulations using HadCM3, mean annual river discharge increases, relative to the baseline or control run period (1961–1990), by +5% to +10% under the SRES emissions scenarios and from +8% to +51% with prescribed increases in global mean air temperature of between 1 and 6° C. Substantial uncertainty in projected changes to mean river discharge (−28% to +13%) under the 2° C warming scenario is, however, associated with the choice of GCM. We conclude that, in the case of Rio Grande Basin, the most important source of uncertainty derives from the GCM rather than the emission scenario or the magnitude of rise in mean global temperature.

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