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Water 2016, 8(5), 189; doi:10.3390/w8050189

Historical Trends in Mean and Extreme Runoff and Streamflow Based on Observations and Climate Models

Civil Engineering Department and NOAA-CREST, The City College of New York, City University of New York, New York, NY 10031, USA
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Academic Editors: Yunqing Xuan, Harshinie Karunarathna and Adrián Pedrozo-Acuña
Received: 20 December 2015 / Revised: 27 April 2016 / Accepted: 28 April 2016 / Published: 7 May 2016
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Abstract

To understand changes in global mean and extreme streamflow volumes over recent decades, we statistically analyzed runoff and streamflow simulated by the WBM-plus hydrological model using either observational-based meteorological inputs from WATCH Forcing Data (WFD), or bias-corrected inputs from five global climate models (GCMs) provided by the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP). Results show that the bias-corrected GCM inputs yield very good agreement with the observation-based inputs in average magnitude of runoff and streamflow. On global average, the observation-based simulated mean runoff and streamflow both decreased about 1.3% from 1971 to 2001. However, GCM-based simulations yield increasing trends over that period, with an inter-model global average of 1% for mean runoff and 0.9% for mean streamflow. In the GCM-based simulations, relative changes in extreme runoff and extreme streamflow (annual maximum daily values and annual-maximum seven-day streamflow) are slightly greater than those of mean runoff and streamflow, in terms of global and continental averages. Observation-based simulations show increasing trend in mean runoff and streamflow for about one-half of the land areas and decreasing trend for the other half. However, mean and extreme runoff and streamflow based on the GCMs show increasing trend for approximately two-thirds of the global land area and decreasing trend for the other one-third. Further work is needed to understand why GCM simulations appear to indicate trends in streamflow that are more positive than those suggested by climate observations, even where, as in ISI-MIP, bias correction has been applied so that their streamflow climatology is realistic. View Full-Text
Keywords: global; runoff trends; streamflow trends; extremes; observations; global climate models; ISI-MIP global; runoff trends; streamflow trends; extremes; observations; global climate models; ISI-MIP
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Asadieh, B.; Krakauer, N.Y.; Fekete, B.M. Historical Trends in Mean and Extreme Runoff and Streamflow Based on Observations and Climate Models. Water 2016, 8, 189.

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