Articles | Volume 16, issue 12
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 4517–4530, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-16-4517-2012

Special issue: Precipitation uncertainty and variability: observations, ensemble...

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 4517–4530, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-16-4517-2012

Research article 03 Dec 2012

Research article | 03 Dec 2012

Future changes in extreme precipitation in the Rhine basin based on global and regional climate model simulations

S. C. van Pelt1, J. J. Beersma2, T. A. Buishand2, B. J. J. M. van den Hurk2, and P. Kabat1,3 S. C. van Pelt et al.
  • 1Earth System Science – Climate Change and Adaptive Land and Water Management, Wageningen UR, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), P.O. Box 201, 3730 AE De Bilt, The Netherlands
  • 3International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA), Schlossplatz 1, 2361 Laxenburg, Austria

Abstract. Probability estimates of the future change of extreme precipitation events are usually based on a limited number of available global climate model (GCM) or regional climate model (RCM) simulations. Since floods are related to heavy precipitation events, this restricts the assessment of flood risks. In this study a relatively simple method has been developed to get a better description of the range of changes in extreme precipitation events. Five bias-corrected RCM simulations of the 1961–2100 climate for a single greenhouse gas emission scenario (A1B SRES) were available for the Rhine basin. To increase the size of this five-member RCM ensemble, 13 additional GCM simulations were analysed. The climate responses of the GCMs are used to modify an observed (1961–1995) precipitation time series with an advanced delta change approach. Changes in the temporal means and variability are taken into account. It is found that the range of future change of extreme precipitation across the five-member RCM ensemble is similar to results from the 13-member GCM ensemble. For the RCM ensemble, the time series modification procedure also results in a similar climate response compared to the signal deduced from the direct model simulations. The changes from the individual RCM simulations, however, systematically differ from those of the driving GCMs, especially for long return periods.