Climatic Change

, Volume 113, Issue 3, pp 803-823

A method for incorporating climate variability in climate change impact assessments: Sensitivity of river flows in the Eden catchment to precipitation scenarios

  • Ralph LedbetterAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and HydrologyWalker Institute for Climate Systems Research, University of Reading Email author 
  • , Christel PrudhommeAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • , Nigel ArnellAffiliated withWalker Institute for Climate Systems Research, University of Reading

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Interest in the impacts of climate change is ever increasing. This is particularly true of the water sector where understanding potential changes in the occurrence of both floods and droughts is important for strategic planning. Climate variability has been shown to have a significant impact on UK climate and accounting for this in future climate change projections is essential to fully anticipate potential future impacts. In this paper a new resampling methodology is developed which includes the variability of both baseline and future precipitation. The resampling methodology is applied to 13 CMIP3 climate models for the 2080s, resulting in an ensemble of monthly precipitation change factors. The change factors are applied to the Eden catchment in eastern Scotland with analysis undertaken for the sensitivity of future river flows to the changes in precipitation. Climate variability is shown to influence the magnitude and direction of change of both precipitation and in turn river flow, which are not apparent without the use of the resampling methodology. The transformation of precipitation changes to river flow changes display a degree of non-linearity due to the catchment’s role in buffering the response. The resampling methodology developed in this paper provides a new technique for creating climate change scenarios which incorporate the important issue of climate variability.