, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 211-230
Date: 11 Jan 2012

Comparison of the use of alternative UKCP09 products for modelling the impacts of climate change on flood frequency

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Abstract

Climate change could have significant impacts on hydrology. This paper uses UK Climate Projections 09 (UKCP09) products to assess the impacts on flood frequency in Britain. The main UKCP09 product comprises conditional probabilistic information on changes in a number of climate variables on a 25 × 25 km grid across the UK (the Sampled Data change factors). A second product is a Weather Generator which produces time-series of current weather variables and future weather variables based on the Sampled Data and consistent with the change factors. A third product comprises time-series from a Regional Climate Model (RCM) ensemble which were used to downscale Global Climate Models (GCMs) on which the projections are based and whose outputs were used in the production of the Sampled Data. This paper compares the use of Sampled Data change factors, Weather Generator time-series, RCM-derived change factors and RCM time-series. Each is used to provide hydrological model inputs for nine catchments, to assess impacts for the 2080s (A1B emissions). The results show relatively good agreement between methods for most catchments, with the four median values for a catchment generally being within 10% of each other. There are also some clear differences, with the use of time-series generally leading to a greater uncertainty range than the use of change factors because the latter do not allow for the effects of, or changes in, natural variability. Also, the use of Weather Generator time-series leads to much greater impacts than the other methods for one catchment. The results suggest that climate impact studies should not necessarily rely on the application of just one UKCP09 product, as each has different strengths and weaknesses.