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Impact of climate change on flood characteristics in Brahmaputra basin using a macro-scale distributed hydrological model

Journal of earth system science 2012 v.121 no.3 pp. 637-657
climate change, climate models, floods, model validation, monsoon season, prediction, probability analysis, rivers, time series analysis
Being the highest specific discharge river system in the world, the Brahmaputra river experiences a number of long-duration flood waves during the monsoon season annually. In order to assess the flood characteristics at the basin and tributary scales, a physically based macro-scale distributed hydrological model (DHM) has been calibrated and validated for 9 wet years. The model performance has been evaluated in terms of prediction of the flood characteristics such as peak discharge, flood duration, arrival time of flood wave, timing of the peak flow and number of flood waves per season. Future changes in the flood wave characteristics of the basin have been evaluated using the validated model with bias-corrected future-projected meteorological scenario from a regional climate model (RCM). Likelihood analysis of the simulated flow time series reveals that significant increase in both peak discharge and flood duration is expected for both the pre-monsoonal and monsoonal seasons in the basin, but the number of flood waves per season would be reduced. Under the projected climate change scenario, it is expected that there will be more catastrophic floods in the basin.