Articles | Volume 14, issue 4
12 Apr 2010
 | 12 Apr 2010

The hydrological response of the Ourthe catchment to climate change as modelled by the HBV model

T. L. A. Driessen, R. T. W. L. Hurkmans, W. Terink, P. Hazenberg, P. J. J. F. Torfs, and R. Uijlenhoet

Abstract. The Meuse is an important river in Western Europe, which is almost exclusively rain-fed. Projected changes in precipitation characteristics due to climate change, therefore, are expected to have a considerable effect on the hydrological regime of the river Meuse. We focus on an important tributary of the Meuse, the Ourthe, measuring about 1600 km2. The well-known hydrological model HBV is forced with three high-resolution (0.088°) regional climate scenarios, each based on one of three different IPCC CO2 emission scenarios: A1B, A2 and B1. To represent the current climate, a reference model run at the same resolution is used. Prior to running the hydrological model, the biases in the climate model output are investigated and corrected for. Different approaches to correct the distributed climate model output using single-site observations are compared. Correcting the spatially averaged temperature and precipitation is found to give the best results, but still large differences exist between observations and simulations. The bias corrected data are then used to force HBV. Results indicate a small increase in overall discharge, especially for the B1 scenario during the beginning of the 21st century. Towards the end of the century, all scenarios show a decrease in summer discharge, partially because of the diminished buffering effect by the snow pack, and an increased discharge in winter. It should be stressed, however, that we used results from only one GCM (the only one available at such a high resolution). It would be interesting to repeat the analysis with multiple models.