Evaluating sources of uncertainty in Australian runoff projections

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Preston, B and Jones, Roger ORCID: 0000-0001-6970-2797 (2008) Evaluating sources of uncertainty in Australian runoff projections. Advances in Water Resources, 31 (5). pp. 758-775. ISSN 0309-1708

Abstract

Generating estimates of the future impacts of climate change on human and natural systems is confounded by cascading uncertainties which propagate through the impact assessment. Here, a simple stochastic rainfall–runoff model representing 238 river basins on the Australian continent was used to assess the sensitivity of the risk of runoff changes to various sources of uncertainty. Uncertainties included global mean temperature change, greenhouse gas stabilisation targets, catchment sensitivities to climatic change, and the seasonality of runoff, rainfall, and evaporation. Model simulations provided estimates of the first-order risk of climate change to Australian catchments, with several regions having high likelihoods of experiencing significant reductions in future runoff. Climate uncertainty (at global and regional scales) was identified as the dominant driving force in hydrological risk assessments. Uncertainties in catchment sensitivities to climatic changes also influenced risk, provided they were sufficiently large, whereas structural assumptions of the model were generally negligible. Collectively, these results indicate that rigorous assessment of climate risk to water resources over relatively long time-scales is largely a function of adequately exploring the uncertainty space of future climate changes.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/3896
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.advwatres.2008.01.006
Official URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S...
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0501 Ecological Applications
Historical > FOR Classification > 0502 Environmental Science and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES)
Keywords ResPubID18602, climate change, runoff, water resources, risk, uncertainty
Citations in Scopus 29 - View on Scopus
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