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Assessing the impact of climate change on flood in an alpine catchment using multiple hydrological models

Wang, Xiaoyan, Yang, Tao, Krysanova, Valentina, Yu, Zhongbo
Stochastic environmental research and risk assessment 2015 v.29 no.8 pp. 2143-2158
climate, climate change, confidence interval, floods, hydrologic models, plateaus, stream flow, uncertainty, watersheds, China, Yellow River
A growing number of studies on streamflow projection in the context of global climate change have been widely reported in past years. However, current knowledge on the role of different hydrological models to estimate future climate impact on flood in the Tibet Plateau is still limited so far. In this work, a group of hydrological models in conjunction with statistical downscaling outputs (SDSM and ANN) from the HadCM3 GCM model are used to evaluate the impacts of climate change on floods in the 21st century over the headwater catchment of Yellow River, the Tibet Plateau. The influence of different hydrological models on flood projection and quantile estimation are addressed. The results show that: (1) three hydrological models generate acceptable results of flood magnitude and frequency at Tangnaihai station during the past 50 years; (2) quite similar projections for future floods are obtained by means of different hydrological models, decreasing flood magnitude corresponding to the 2-, 5-, 10- and 50-year return periods is found under most scenarios in the 21st century. Meanwhile, flood frequency is likely to reduce in response to climate change; (3) the uncertainty in projected flood quantile by three different hydrological models increases with recurrence interval in term of relative length of confidence interval (RL). Besides, RL for flood quantile in future climate scenarios is likely to become larger than the baseline period. The results are valuable to improve our current knowledge of climate impact research in the alpine regions.