Climatic Change

, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 211–230

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



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.


  1. Bell VA, Moore RJ (1999) An elevation-dependent snowmelt model for upland Britain. Hydrol Process 13:1887–1903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell VA, Kay AL, Jones RG, Moore RJ, Reynard NS (2009) Use of soil data in a grid-based hydrological model to estimate spatial variation in changing flood risk across the UK. J Hydrol 377(3–4):335–350. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.08.031 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bell VA, Gedney N, Kay AL, Smith R, Jones RG, Moore RJ (2011) Estimating potential evaporation from vegetated surfaces for water management impact assessments using climate model output. J Hydrometeorol 12:1127–1136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burton A, Kilsby CG, Fowler HJ, Cowpertwait PSP, O’Connell PE (2008) RainSim: a spatial temporal stochastic rainfall modelling system. Environ Mod Soft 23(12):1356–1369. doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2008.04.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Crooks SM, Kay AL, Reynard NS (2009) Regionalised impacts of climate change on flood flows: hydrological models, catchments and calibration. Report to Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, FD2020 project milestone, CEH Wallingford, November 2009, 59ppGoogle Scholar
  6. Dettinger MD, Cayan DR, Meyer MK, Jeton AE (2004) Simulated hydrologic responses to climate variations and change in the Merced, Carson, and American river basins, Sierra Nevada, California, 1900–2099. Clim Chang 62:283–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Diaz-Nieto J, Wilby RL (2005) A comparison of statistical downscaling and climate change factor methods: impacts on low flows in the River Thames, United Kingdom. Clim Chang 69:245–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Frame DJ, Aina T, Christensen CM, Faull NE, Knight SHE, Piani C, Rosier SM, Yamazaki K, Yamazaki Y, Allen MR (2009) The BBC climate change experiment: design of the coupled model ensemble. Phil Trans R Soc A 367:855–870. doi:10.1098/rsta.2008.0240 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Graham LP, Hageman S, Jaun S, Beniston M (2007) On interpreting hydrological change from regional climate models. Clim Chang 81:97–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. IPCC (2000) Special report on emissions scenarios (SRES): a special report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 599 ppGoogle Scholar
  11. IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, Pachauri, RK and Reisinger, A (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 104ppGoogle Scholar
  12. Jenkins GJ, Cooper C, Hassell DC, Jones RG (2003) Scenarios of climate change for islands within the BIC region, British-Irish Council Report, 2003Google Scholar
  13. Jenkins GJ, Perry MC, Prior MJO (2007) The climate of the United Kingdom and recent trends. Met Office Hadley Centre, ExeterGoogle Scholar
  14. Jones PD, Kilsby CG, Harpham C, Glenis V, Burton A (2009) UK Climate Projections science report: projections of future daily climate for the UK from the Weather Generator. University of Newcastle, UKGoogle Scholar
  15. Kay AL, Davies HN (2008) Calculating potential evaporation from climate model data: a source of uncertainty for hydrological climate change impacts. J Hydrol 358:221–239. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2008.06.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kay AL, Jones RG, Reynard NS (2006a) RCM rainfall for UK flood frequency estimation. II. Climate change results. J Hydrol 318:163–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kay AL, Reynard NS, Jones RG (2006b) RCM rainfall for UK flood frequency estimation. I. Method and validation. J Hydrol 318:151–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kay AL, Jones DA, Crooks SM, Kjeldsen TR, Fung CF (2007) An investigation of site-similarity approaches to generalisation of a rainfall-runoff model. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 11:500–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kay AL, Crooks S, Prudhomme C (2009a) Regionalised impacts of climate change on flood flows: Uncertainty analysis. Report to Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, FD2020 project milestone, CEH Wallingford, November 2009, 71ppGoogle Scholar
  20. Kay AL, Davies HN, Bell VA, Jones RG (2009b) Comparison of uncertainty sources for climate change impacts: flood frequency in England. Clim Chang 92(1–2):41–63. doi:10.1007/s10584-008-9471-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kay AL, Crooks SM, Pall P, Stone D (2011a) Attribution of Autumn/Winter 2000 flood risk in England to anthropogenic climate change: a catchment-based study. J Hydrol 406:97–112. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.06.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kay AL, Crooks SM, Reynard NS, Lamb R (2011b) Translating UKCP09: FCERM-specific projections. Report to Environment Agency, SC080004/R/FCERM Projections, June 2011, 32ppGoogle Scholar
  23. Kendon EJ, Rowell DP, Jones RG, Buonomo E (2008) Robustness of future changes in local precipitation extremes. J Clim 21:4280–4297. doi:10.1175/2008JCLI2082.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kendon EJ, Jones RG, Kjellstrom E, Murphy JM (2010) Using and designing GCM-RCM ensemble regional climate projections. J Clim 23:6485–6503. doi:10.1175/2010JCLI3502.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Monteith JL (1965) Evaporation and environment. Symp Soc Exp Biol 19:205–234Google Scholar
  26. Moore RJ (1985) The probability-distributed principle and runoff production at point and basin scales. Hydrolog Sci J 30:273–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moore RJ (2007) The PDM rainfall-runoff model. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 11(1):483–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Moore RJ, Bell VA, Jones DA (2005) Forecasting for flood warning. CR Geosci 337:203–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Murphy JM, Sexton DM, Barnett DN, Jones GS, Webb MJ, Collins M, Stainforth DA (2004) Quantification of modelling uncertainties in a large ensemble of climate change simulations. Nature 430(7001):768–772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Murphy JM, Sexton DMH, Jenkins GJ, Booth BBB, Brown CC, Clark RT, Collins M, Harris GR, Kendon EJ, Betts RA, Brown SJ, Humphrey KA, McCarthy MP, McDonald RE, Stephens A, Wallace C, Warren R, Wilby R, Wood RA (2009) UK Climate Projections Science Report: climate change projections. Met Office Hadley Centre, ExeterGoogle Scholar
  31. Naden PS (1992) Analysis and use of peaks-over-threshold data in flood estimation. In: Saul AJ (ed) Floods and flood management. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 131–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. New M, Lopez A, Dessai S, Wilby R (2007) Challenges in using probabilistic climate change information for impact assessments: an example from the water sector. Philos Trans R Soc A 365:2117–2131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Oudin L, Hervieu F, Michel C, Perrin C, Andreassian V, Anctil F, Loumagne C (2005) Which potential evapotranspiration input for a lumped rainfall-runoff model?: part 2—towards a simple and efficient potential evapotranspiration model for rainfall-runoff modelling. J Hydrol 303(1–4):290–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pall P, Aina T, Stone DA, Stott PA, Nozawa T, Hilberts AGJ, Lohmann D, Allen MR (2011) Anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution to flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000. Nature 470:382–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Prudhomme C, Davies HN (2009) Assessing uncertainties in climate change impact analyses on river flow regimes in the UK. Part 2: future climate. Clim Chang. doi:10.1007/s10584-008-9461-6
  36. Prudhomme C, Reynard N, Crooks S (2002) Downscaling from global climate models for flood frequency analysis: where are we now? Hydrol Process 16:1137–1150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Prudhomme C, Wilby RL, Crooks S, Kay AL, Reynard NS (2010) Scenario-neutral approach to climate change impact studies: application to flood risk. J Hydrol 390:198–209. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.06.043 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Räisänen J, Ruokolainen L (2006) Probabilistic forecasts of near-term climate change based on a resampling ensemble technique. Tellus A 58:461–472Google Scholar
  39. Reynard NS, Crooks S, Kay AL, Prudhomme C (2009) Regionalised impacts of climate change on flood flows. Report to Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Technical Report FD2020, CEH Wallingford, November 2009, 113ppGoogle Scholar
  40. Rougier JC (2008) Efficient emulators for multivariate deterministic functions. J Comput Graph Stat 17(4):827–843. doi:10.1198/106186008X384032 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thompson N, Barrie IA, Ayles M (1982) The meteorological office rainfall and evaporation calculation system: MORECS (July 1981). Hydrological Memorandum No. 45, Met Office, BracknellGoogle Scholar
  42. Wilby RL, Harris I (2006) A framework for assessing uncertainties in climate change impacts: low-flow scenarios for the River Thames, UK. Water Resour Res 42:W02419. doi:10.1029/2005WR004065 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyWallingfordUK
  2. 2.Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and ResearchExeterUK

Personalised recommendations