Estimating the sensitivity of mean annual runoff to climate change using selected hydrological models

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Jones, Roger ORCID: 0000-0001-6970-2797, Chiew, Francis H S, Boughton, Walter C and Zhang, Lu (2006) Estimating the sensitivity of mean annual runoff to climate change using selected hydrological models. Advances in Water Resources, 29 (10). pp. 1419-1429. ISSN 0309-1708


Hydrological model sensitivity to climate change can be defined as the response of a particular hydrological model to a known quantum of climate change. This paper estimates the hydrological sensitivity, measured as the percentage change in mean annual runoff, of two lumped parameter rainfall-runoff models, SIMHYD and AWBM and an empirical model, Zhang01, to changes in rainfall and potential evaporation. These changes are estimated for 22 Australian catchments covering a range of climates, from cool temperate to tropical and moist to arid. The results show that the models display different sensitivities to both rainfall and potential evaporation changes. The SIMHYD, AWBM and Zhang01 models show mean sensitivities of 2.4%, 2.5% and 2.1% change in mean annual flow for every 1% change in mean annual rainfall, respectively. All rainfall sensitivities have a lower limit of 1.8% and show upper limits of 4.1%, 3.4% and 2.5%, respectively. The results for potential evaporation change are -0.5%, -0.8% and -1.0% for every 1% increase in mean annual potential evaporation, respectively, with changes rainfall being approximately 3-5 times more sensitive than changes in potential evaporation for each 1% change in climate. Despite these differences, the results show similar correlations for several catchment characteristics. The most significant relationship is between percent change in annual rainfall and potential evaporation to the catchment runoff coefficient. The sensitivity of both A and B factors decreases with an increasing runoff coefficient, as does the uncertainty in this relationship. The results suggest that a first-order relationship can be used to give a rough estimate of changes in runoff using estimates of change in rainfall and potential evaporation representing small to modest changes in climate. Further work will develop these methods further, by investigating other regions and changes on the subannual scale.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1016/j.advwatres.2005.11.001
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0502 Environmental Science and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES)
Historical > FOR Classification > 0501 Ecological Applications
Keywords ResPubID18597, climate change, rainfall, runoff, sensitivity analysis, Australia, watersheds
Citations in Scopus 210 - View on Scopus
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