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Assessing Climate Change Impacts on River Flows in the Tonle Sap Lake Basin, Cambodia

1
Faculty of Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering, Institute of Technology of Cambodia, Phnom Penh 12156, Cambodia
2
Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
3
Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
4
Collegium—Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Lyon, 69007 Lyon, France
5
Stockholm Environment Institute, Asia Center, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
6
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(3), 618; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030618
Received: 3 February 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 19 March 2019 / Published: 25 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluating Hydrological Responses to Climate Change)
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Abstract

The Tonle Sap is the most fertile and diverse freshwater ecosystem in Southeast Asia, receiving nurturing water flows from the Mekong and its immediate basin. In addition to rapid development in the Tonle Sap basin, climate change may threaten natural flow patterns that sustain its diversity. The impacts of climate change on river flows in 11 sub-basins contributing to the Tonle Sap Lake were assessed using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to quantify the potential magnitude of future hydrological alterations. Projected river flows from three General Circulation Models (GFDL-CM3, GISS-E2-R-CC and IPSL-CM5A-MR) for three time horizons (2030s, 2060s and 2090s) indicate a likely decrease in both the wet and dry season flows. The mean annual projected flow reductions range from 9 to 29%, 10 to 35% and 7 to 41% for the 2030s, 2060s and 2090s projections, respectively. Moreover, a decrease in extreme river flows (Q5 and Q95) was also found, which implies there could be a decline in flood magnitudes and an increase in drought occurrences throughout the basin. The results of this study provide insight for water resources planning and adaptation strategies for the river ecosystems during the dry season, when water flows are projected to decrease. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; river flow; Tonle Sap; SWAT model; Lower Mekong climate change; river flow; Tonle Sap; SWAT model; Lower Mekong
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Oeurng, C.; Cochrane, T.A.; Chung, S.; Kondolf, M.G.; Piman, T.; Arias, M.E. Assessing Climate Change Impacts on River Flows in the Tonle Sap Lake Basin, Cambodia. Water 2019, 11, 618.

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