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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 22, issue 1
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 305-316, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-305-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 305-316, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-305-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 15 Jan 2018

Research article | 15 Jan 2018

Impacts of future climate change on urban flood volumes in Hohhot in northern China: benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptations

Qianqian Zhou1,2, Guoyong Leng2,a, and Maoyi Huang3 Qianqian Zhou et al.
  • 1School of Civil and Transportation Engineering, Guangdong University of Technology, Waihuan Xi Road, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • 2Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, College Park MD 20740, USA
  • 3Earth System Analysis and Modeling Group, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99352, USA
  • anow at: Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK

Abstract. As China becomes increasingly urbanised, flooding has become a regular occurrence in its major cities. Assessing the effects of future climate change on urban flood volumes is crucial to informing better management of such disasters given the severity of the devastating impacts of flooding (e.g. the 2016 flooding events across China). Although recent studies have investigated the impacts of future climate change on urban flooding, the effects of both climate change mitigation and adaptation have rarely been accounted for together in a consistent framework. In this study, we assess the benefits of mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and locally adapting to climate change by modifying drainage systems to reduce urban flooding under various climate change scenarios through a case study conducted in northern China. The urban drainage model – Storm Water Management Model – was used to simulate urban flood volumes using current and two adapted drainage systems (i.e. pipe enlargement and low-impact development, LID), driven by bias-corrected meteorological forcing from five general circulation models in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 archive. Results indicate that urban flood volume is projected to increase by 52% over 2020–2040 compared to the volume in 1971–2000 under the business-as-usual scenario (i.e. Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5). The magnitudes of urban flood volumes are found to increase nonlinearly with changes in precipitation intensity. On average, the projected flood volume under RCP 2.6 is 13% less than that under RCP 8.5, demonstrating the benefits of global-scale climate change mitigation efforts in reducing local urban flood volumes. Comparison of reduced flood volumes between climate change mitigation and local adaptation (by improving drainage systems) scenarios suggests that local adaptation is more effective than climate change mitigation in reducing future flood volumes. This has broad implications for the research community relative to drainage system design and modelling in a changing environment. This study highlights the importance of accounting for local adaptation when coping with future urban floods.

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Our results showed that adaptations through designing and updating urban drainage systems are effective in coping with urban flood risk under climate change. In the case study region, the magnitude of urban flood risk reduction through adaptations is more than double that by climate mitigations. We emphasize the importance of accounting for both global-scale climate mitigation and local-scale adaptations in assessing future urban flood risks in a consistent frame.
Our results showed that adaptations through designing and updating urban drainage systems are...
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