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Downscaling of a global climate model for estimation of runoff, sediment yield and dam storage: A case study of Pirapama basin, Brazil

Braga, Ana Cláudia F. Medeiros, Silva, Richarde Marques da, Santos, Celso Augusto Guimarães, Galvão, Carlos de Oliveira, Nobre, Paulo
Journal of hydrology 2013 v.498 pp. 46-58
General Circulation Models, atmospheric circulation, basins, case studies, climate, humans, hydrologic models, prediction, rain, runoff, sediment yield, soil, weather forecasting, Brazil
The coastal zone of northeastern Brazil is characterized by intense human activities and by large settlements and also experiences high soil losses that can contribute to environmental damage. Therefore, it is necessary to build an integrated modeling-forecasting system for rainfall-runoff erosion that assesses plans for water availability and sediment yield that can be conceived and implemented. In this work, we present an evaluation of an integrated modeling system for a basin located in this region with a relatively low predictability of seasonal rainfall and a small area (600km2). The National Center for Environmental Predictions – NCEP’s Regional Spectral Model (RSM) nested within the Center for Weather Forecasting and Climate Studies – CPTEC’s Atmospheric General Circulation Model (AGCM) were investigated in this study, and both are addressed in the simulation work. The rainfall analysis shows that: (1) the dynamic downscaling carried out by the regional RSM model approximates the frequency distribution of the daily observed data set although errors were detected in the magnitude and timing (anticipation of peaks, for example) at the daily scale, (2) an unbiased precipitation forecast seemed to be essential for use of the results in hydrological models, and (3) the information directly extracted from the global model may also be useful. The simulated runoff and reservoir-stored volumes are strongly linked to rainfall, and their estimation accuracy was significantly improved at the monthly scale, thus rendering the results useful for management purposes. The runoff-erosion forecasting displayed a large sediment yield that was consistent with the predicted rainfall.