Articles | Volume 20, issue 10
Research article
11 Oct 2016
Research article |  | 11 Oct 2016

Relative impacts of land use and climate change on summer precipitation in the Netherlands

Emma Daniels, Geert Lenderink, Ronald Hutjes, and Albert Holtslag

Abstract. The effects of historic and future land use on precipitation in the Netherlands are investigated on 18 summer days with similar meteorological conditions. The days are selected with a circulation type classification and a clustering procedure to obtain a homogenous set of days that is expected to favor land impacts. Changes in precipitation are investigated in relation to the present-day climate and land use, and from the perspective of future climate and land use. To that end, the weather research and forecasting (WRF) model is used with land use maps for 1900, 2000, and 2040. In addition, a temperature perturbation of +1 °C assuming constant relative humidity is imposed as a surrogate climate change scenario. Decreases in precipitation of, respectively, 3–5 and 2–5 % are simulated following conversion of historic to present, and present to future, land use. The temperature perturbation under present land use conditions increases precipitation amounts by on average 7–8 % and amplifies precipitation intensity. However, when also considering future land use, the increase is reduced to 2–6 % on average, and no intensification of extreme precipitation is simulated. In all, the simulated effects of land use changes on precipitation in summer are smaller than the effects of climate change, but are not negligible.

Short summary
Using a weather model, we find that historic and future land use changes have a smaller effect (decrease) on summer precipitation in the Netherlands than climate change has (increase). As a result, precipitation will likely continue to increase over the coming decades. Nevertheless, in the Netherlands the influence of land surface changes on summer precipitation is not negligible and counters the effect of climate change, especially for extreme precipitation.