Hydrologic response to multimodel climate output using a physically based model of groundwater/surface water interactions
General circulation models (GCMs) are the primary instruments for obtaining projections of future global climate change. Outputs from GCMs, aided by dynamical and/or statistical downscaling techniques, have long been used to simulate changes in regional climate systems over wide spatiotemporal scales. Numerous studies have acknowledged the disagreements between the various GCMs and between the different downscaling methods designed to compensate for the mismatch between climate model output and the spatial scale at which hydrological models are applied. Very little is known, however, about the importance of these differences once they have been input or assimilated by a nonlinear hydrological model. This issue is investigated here at the catchment scale using a process-based model of integrated surface and subsurface hydrologic response driven by outputs from 12 members of a multimodel climate ensemble. The data set consists of daily values of precipitation and min/max temperatures obtained by combining four regional climate models and five GCMs. The regional scenarios were downscaled using a quantile scaling bias-correction technique. The hydrologic response was simulated for the 690 km2des Anglais catchment in southwestern Quebec, Canada. The results show that different hydrological components (river discharge, aquifer recharge, and soil moisture storage) respond differently to precipitation and temperature anomalies in the multimodel climate output, with greater variability for annual discharge compared to recharge and soil moisture storage. We also find that runoff generation and extreme event-driven peak hydrograph flows are highly sensitive to any uncertainty in climate data. Finally, the results show the significant impact of changing sequences of rainy days on groundwater recharge fluxes and the influence of longer dry spells in modifying soil moisture spatial variability.