Climate change effects on the hydrological regime of small non-perennial river basins

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34 Citazioni (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent years have been witnessing an increasing interest on global climate change and, although we are only at the first stage of the projected trends, some signals of climate alteration are already visible. Climate change encompasses modifications in the characteristics of several interrelated climate variables, and unavoidably produces relevant effects on almost all the natural processes related to the hydrological cycle. This study focuses on potential impacts of climate variations on the streamflow regime of small river basins in Mediterranean, seasonally dry, regions. The paper provides a quantitative evaluation of potential modifications in the flow duration curves (FDCs) and in the partitioning between surface and subsurface contributions to streamflow, induced by climate changes projected over the next century in different basins, also exploring the role exerted by different soil-vegetation compositions. To this aim, it is used a recent hydrological model, which is calibrated at five Sicilian (Italy) basins using a past period with available streamflow observations. The model is then forced by daily precipitation and reference evapotranspiration series representative of the current climatic conditions and two future temporal horizons, referring to the time windows 2045-2065 and 2081-2100. Future climatic series are generated by a weather generator, based on a stochastic downscaling of an ensemble of General Circulation Models. The results show how the projected climatic modifications are differently reflected in the hydrological response of the selected basins, implying, in general, a sensible downshift of the FDCs, with a significant reduction in the mean annual streamflow, and substantial alterations in streamflow seasonality and in the relative importance of the surface and subsurface components. The projected climate change impact on the hydrological regime of ephemeral rivers could have important implications for the water resource management and for the sustainability of many riparian Mediterranean ecosystems.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)76-92
Numero di pagine17
RivistaScience of the Total Environment
Volume542
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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