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Climate 2017, 5(3), 44; doi:10.3390/cli5030044

Hydrologic Alterations Predicted by Seasonally-Consistent Subset Ensembles of General Circulation Models

1
Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
2
New Mexico Water Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Albuquerque, NM 87113, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Daniele Bocchiola, Claudio Cassardo and Guglielmina Diolaiuti
Received: 17 May 2017 / Revised: 16 June 2017 / Accepted: 21 June 2017 / Published: 26 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modified Hydrological Cycle under Global Warming)
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Abstract

Future climate forcing data at the temporal and spatial scales needed to drive hydrologic models are not readily available. Simple methods to derive these data from historical data or General Circulation Model (GCM) results may not adequately capture future hydrological variability. This study assessed streamflow response to daily future climate forcing data produced by a new method using subsets of multi-model GCM ensembles for the mid-21st century period in northeast Kansas. Daily timeseries of precipitation and temperature were developed for six future climate scenarios: stationary, uniform 10% changes in precipitation; shifts based on a 15-GCM ensemble-mean; and shifts based on three seasonally-consistent subsets of GCMs representing Spring–Summer combinations that were wetter or drier than the historical period. The analysis of daily streamflow and hydrologic index statistics were conducted. Stationary 10% precipitation shifts generally bounded the monthly mean streamflow projections of the other scenarios, and the 15-GCM ensemble-mean captured non-stationary effects of annual and seasonal hydrological response, but did not identify important intra-annual shifts in drought and flood characteristics. The seasonally-consistent subset ensembles produced a range of distinct monthly streamflow trends, particularly for extreme low-flow and high-flow events. Meaningful water management and planning for the future will require hydrological impact simulations that reflect the range of possible future climates. Use of GCM ensemble-mean climate forcing data without consideration of the range of seasonal patterns among models was demonstrated to remove important seasonal hydrologic patterns that were retained in the subset ensemble-mean approach. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; general circulation models; weather generator; hydrology; SWAT; IHA climate change; general circulation models; weather generator; hydrology; SWAT; IHA
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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

Sheshukov, A.Y.; Douglas-Mankin, K.R. Hydrologic Alterations Predicted by Seasonally-Consistent Subset Ensembles of General Circulation Models. Climate 2017, 5, 44.

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