Articles | Volume 15, issue 3
Research article
24 Mar 2011
Research article |  | 24 Mar 2011

Uncertainty in climate change impacts on basin-scale freshwater resources – preface to the special issue: the QUEST-GSI methodology and synthesis of results

M. C. Todd, R. G. Taylor, T. J. Osborn, D. G. Kingston, N. W. Arnell, and S. N. Gosling

Abstract. This paper presents a preface to this Special Issue on the results of the QUEST-GSI (Global Scale Impacts) project on climate change impacts on catchment scale water resources. A detailed description of the unified methodology, subsequently used in all studies in this issue, is provided. The project method involved running simulations of catchment-scale hydrology using a unified set of past and future climate scenarios, to enable a consistent analysis of the climate impacts around the globe. These scenarios include "policy-relevant" prescribed warming scenarios. This is followed by a synthesis of the key findings. Overall, the studies indicate that in most basins the models project substantial changes to river flow, beyond that observed in the historical record, but that in many cases there is considerable uncertainty in the magnitude and sign of the projected changes. The implications of this for adaptation activities are discussed.