Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hessd-10-3743-2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/hessd-10-3743-2013

  20 Mar 2013

20 Mar 2013

Review status: this preprint was under review for the journal HESS but the revision was not accepted.

Elevational dependence of climate change impacts on water resources in an Alpine catchment

S. Fatichi, S. Rimkus, P. Burlando, R. Bordoy, and P. Molnar S. Fatichi et al.
  • Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract. An increasing interest is directed toward understanding impacts of climate change on water related sectors in a particularly vulnerable area such as the Alpine region. We present a distributed hydrological analysis at scale significant for water management for pristine, present-days, and projected future climate conditions. We used the upper Rhone basin (Switzerland) as a test case for understanding anthropogenic impacts on water resources and flood risk in the Alpine area. The upper Rhone basin includes reservoirs, river diversions and irrigated areas offering the opportunity to study the interaction between climate change effects and hydraulic infrastructures. We downscale climate model realizations using a methodology that partially account for the uncertainty in climate change projections explicitly simulating stochastic variability of precipitation and air temperature. We show how climate change effects on streamflow propagate from high elevation headwater catchments to the river in the major valley. Changes in the natural hydrological regime imposed by the existing hydraulic infrastructure are likely larger than climate change signals expected by the middle of the 21th century in most of the river network. Despite a strong uncertainty induced by stochastic climate variability, we identified an elevational dependence of climate change impacts on streamflow with a severe reduction due to the missing contribution of water from ice melt at high-elevation and a dampened effect downstream. The presence of reservoirs and river diversions tends to decrease the uncertainty in future streamflow predictions that are conversely very large for highly glacierized catchments. Despite uncertainty, reduced ice cover and ice melt are likely to have significant implication for aquatic biodiversity and hydropower production. The impacts can emerge without any additional climate warming. A decrease of August-September discharge and an increase of hourly-daily maximum flows appear as the most robust projected changes for the different parts of the catchment. However, it is unlikely that major changes in total runoff for the entire upper Rhone basin will occur in the next decades.

S. Fatichi et al.

 
Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement
 
Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

S. Fatichi et al.

S. Fatichi et al.

Viewed

Total article views: 3,375 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
1,786 1,507 82 3,375 77 88
  • HTML: 1,786
  • PDF: 1,507
  • XML: 82
  • Total: 3,375
  • BibTeX: 77
  • EndNote: 88
Views and downloads (calculated since 20 Mar 2013)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 20 Mar 2013)

Cited

Saved

Latest update: 26 Oct 2021