We present an assessment of climate change impact on the hydrology of the Lago di Como lake catchment of Italy. On one side, the lake provides water for irrigation of the Po valley during summer, and on the other side its regulation is crucial to prevent flood risk, especially in fall and winter. The dynamics of lake Como are linked to the complex cryospheric hydrology of its Alpine contributing catchment, which is in turn expected to change radically under prospective global warming. The Poli-Hydro
model is used here to simulate the cryospheric processes affecting the hydrology of this high-altitude catchment. We demonstrated the model’s accuracy against historical hydrological observations, available during 2002–2018. We then used four Representative Concentration Pathways scenarios, provided by three Global Circulation Models under the AR6 of IPCC, to project potential climate change until 2100. We thereby derived daily series of rainfall and temperature, to be used as inputs for hydrological simulations. The climate projections here highlight a substantial increase in temperature at the end of the century, between +0.61° and +5.96°, which would lead to a decrease in the total ice volume in the catchment, by −50% to −77%. Moreover, there would be a decrease in the contribution of snow melt to the annual lake inflow, and an increase in ice melt under the worst-case scenarios. Overall, the annual Lake inflows would increase during autumn and winter and would decrease in summer. Our study may provide a tool to help policy makers to henceforth evaluate adaptation strategies in the area.
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