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Impacts of climate change on streamflow in the upper Yangtze River basin

Abstract

The impacts of climate change on streamflow in the upper Yangtze River basin were studied using four hydrological models driven by bias-corrected climate projections from five General Circulation Models under four Representative Concentration Pathways. The basin hydrological responses to climate forcing in future mid-century (2036–2065) and end-century (2070–2099) periods were assessed via comparison of simulation results in these periods to those in the reference period (1981–2010). An analysis of variance (ANOVA) approach was used to quantify the uncertainty sources associated with the climate inputs and hydrological model structures. Overall, the annual average discharge, seasonal high flow, and daily peak discharge were projected to increase in most cases in the twenty-first century but with considerable variability between models under the conditions of increasing temperature and a small to moderate increase in precipitation. Uncertainties in the projections increase over the time and are associated with hydrological model structures, but climate inputs represent the largest source of uncertainty in the upper Yangtze projections. This study assessed streamflow projections without considering water management practices within the basin.

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Acknowledgments

This study was jointly supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (2013CB430205, 2012CB955903), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51309105, 91547208), and the Sino-German Cooperation Group Project (GZ912). The authors would like to thank the ISI-MIP modeling group for providing the climate data.

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Correspondence to Xiaofan Zeng or Tong Jiang.

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This article is part of a Special Issue on “Hydrological Model Intercomparison for Climate Impact Assessment” edited by Valentina Krysanova and Fred Hattermann.

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Su, B., Huang, J., Zeng, X. et al. Impacts of climate change on streamflow in the upper Yangtze River basin. Climatic Change 141, 533–546 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-016-1852-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-016-1852-5

Keywords

  • Hydrological modeling
  • Climate change
  • Uncertainty
  • The upper Yangtze River