Estimating climate change impact on runoff across southeast Australia: Method, results, and implications of the modeling method
This paper describes the modeling of climate change impact on runoff across southeast Australia using a conceptual rainfall-runoff model SIMHYD and presents the results and assesses the robustness of the modeling approach. The future climate series is obtained by scaling the historical series, informed by 15 global climate models (GCMs), to reflect a 0.9°C increase in global average surface air temperature, using a daily scaling method that considers changes in the future mean seasonal rainfall and potential evapotranspiration as well as in the daily rainfall distribution. The majority of the modeling results indicate that there will be less runoff in southeast Australia in the future. However, there is considerable uncertainty, with the results ranging from a 17% decrease to a 7% increase in the mean annual runoff averaged across the study area for the 0.9°C global warming. The model assessments indicate that the modeling approach is generally robust and can be used to estimate the climate impact on runoff. The modeled mean annual runoff is generally within 10–20% of the observed runoff. The modeling results for an independent test period are only slightly poorer than the calibration period, indicating that a satisfactorily calibrated rainfall-runoff model can be used to estimate runoff for another climate period. The modeled impact on various runoff characteristics as estimated by two rainfall-runoff models investigated here differ by less than 10%, which is relatively small compared to the range of modeled runoff results using rainfall projections from different GCMs.