Using UKCP09 probabilistic climate information for UK water resource planning
Water companies in the United Kingdom have considered climate change in their water resources plans for more than a decade through studies funded by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR). This paper presents an initial assessment of the impact of the UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) on river flows at a national scale for the 2020s under the A1B scenario and the implications for water resource planning. A daily hydrological modelling framework based on two conceptual model structures and the Generalized Likelihood Uncertainty Estimation (GLUE) methodology has been applied to 70 catchments across the UK. A Latin Hypercube Sampling approach was adopted to handle the probabilistic nature of UKCP09. Results show a decrease in mean annual flow over most of the UK, with negative median values of all monthly changes except in winter over the western and northern mountainous areas. Furthermore the results indicate a high likelihood of a significant decline in summer flows. An analysis of variance shows that the main uncertainty in river flow changes comes from the spread in climate projections. Finally results are found to be consistent with a previous UKWIR assessment based on individual projections from 6 Global Climate Models (GCMs) under the A2 scenario. The reduction in summer low-flows, critical for water resources, appears however more limited with UKCP09. Although most expected changes are within natural variability, the drier conditions overall and the greater spread of results with respect to previous assessments indicates a need for testing the robustness of water resource plans. âº Latin Hypercube sampling is applied to UKCP09 probabilistic climate projections. âº Impacts on 70 catchments are examined with model and parameter uncertainty. âº Mean annual flow will decrease in the 2020s over most of the UK. âº There is a high likelihood of significant decline in summer flows. âº The main uncertainty in flow changes comes from the spread in climate projections.