Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1775-1791, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-1775-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
12 Mar 2018
Mapping (dis)agreement in hydrologic projections
Lieke A. Melsen1, Nans Addor2,3, Naoki Mizukami2, Andrew J. Newman2, Paul J. J. F. Torfs1, Martyn P. Clark2, Remko Uijlenhoet1, and Adriaan J. Teuling1 1Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands
2National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO, USA
3Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Abstract. Hydrologic projections are of vital socio-economic importance. However, they are also prone to uncertainty. In order to establish a meaningful range of storylines to support water managers in decision making, we need to reveal the relevant sources of uncertainty. Here, we systematically and extensively investigate uncertainty in hydrologic projections for 605 basins throughout the contiguous US. We show that in the majority of the basins, the sign of change in average annual runoff and discharge timing for the period 2070–2100 compared to 1985–2008 differs among combinations of climate models, hydrologic models, and parameters. Mapping the results revealed that different sources of uncertainty dominate in different regions. Hydrologic model induced uncertainty in the sign of change in mean runoff was related to snow processes and aridity, whereas uncertainty in both mean runoff and discharge timing induced by the climate models was related to disagreement among the models regarding the change in precipitation. Overall, disagreement on the sign of change was more widespread for the mean runoff than for the discharge timing. The results demonstrate the need to define a wide range of quantitative hydrologic storylines, including parameter, hydrologic model, and climate model forcing uncertainty, to support water resource planning.
Citation: Melsen, L. A., Addor, N., Mizukami, N., Newman, A. J., Torfs, P. J. J. F., Clark, M. P., Uijlenhoet, R., and Teuling, A. J.: Mapping (dis)agreement in hydrologic projections, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1775-1791, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-1775-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
Long-term hydrological predictions are important for water management planning, but are also prone to uncertainty. This study investigates three sources of uncertainty for long-term hydrological predictions in the US: climate models, hydrological models, and hydrological model parameters. Mapping the results revealed spatial patterns in the three sources of uncertainty: different sources of uncertainty dominate in different regions.
Long-term hydrological predictions are important for water management planning, but are also...
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