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Freddie S. Mpelasoka and Francis H. S. Chiew

Abstract

The future rainfall series used to drive hydrological models in most climate change impact studies is informed by global climate models (GCMs). This paper compares future runoff projections in ∼11 000 0.25° grid cells across Australia from a daily rainfall–runoff model driven with future daily rainfall series obtained using three simple scaling methods, informed by 14 GCMs. In the constant scaling and daily scaling methods, the historical daily rainfall series is scaled by the relative difference between GCM simulations for the future and historical climates. The constant scaling method scales all the daily rainfall by the same factor, and the daily scaling method takes into account changes in the daily rainfall distribution by scaling the different daily rainfall amounts differently. In the daily translation method, the GCM future daily rainfall series is translated to a 0.25° gridcell rainfall series using the relationship established between the historical GCM-scale rainfall and 0.25° gridcell rainfall data. The daily scaling and daily translation methods generally give higher extreme and annual runoff than the constant scaling method because they take into account the increase in extreme daily rainfall (which generates significant runoff) simulated by the large majority of the GCMs. However, the difference between the mean annual runoff simulated with future daily rainfall series obtained using the constant versus daily scaling methods is generally less than 5%, which is relatively smaller than the range of runoff results from the different GCMs of 30%–40%.

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Yongqiang Zhang, Francis H. S. Chiew, Lu Zhang, and Hongxia Li

Abstract

This paper explores the use of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), mounted on the polar-orbiting Terra satellite, to determine leaf area index (LAI), and use actual evapotranspiration estimated using MODIS LAI data combined with the Penman–Monteith equation [remote sensing evapotranspiration (E RS)] in a lumped conceptual daily rainfall–runoff model. The model is a simplified version of the HYDROLOG (SIMHYD) model, which is used to estimate runoff in ungauged catchments. Two applications were explored: (i) the calibration of SIMHYD against both the observed streamflow and E RS, and (ii) the modification of SIMHYD to use MODIS LAI data directly. Data from 2001 to 2005 from 120 catchments in southeast Australia were used for the study. To assess the modeling results for ungauged catchments, optimized parameter values from the geographically nearest gauged catchment were used to model runoff in the ungauged catchment. The results indicate that the SIMHYD calibration against both the observed streamflow and E RS produced better simulations of daily and monthly runoff in ungauged catchments compared to the SIMHYD calibration against only the observed streamflow data, despite the modeling results being assessed solely against the observed streamflow data. The runoff simulations were even better for the modified SIMHYD model that used the MODIS LAI directly. It is likely that the use of other remotely sensed data (such as soil moisture) and smarter modification of rainfall–runoff models to use remotely sensed data directly can further improve the prediction of runoff in ungauged catchments.

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Yongqiang Zhang, Hongxing Zheng, Francis H. S. Chiew, Jorge Peña- Arancibia, and Xinyao Zhou

Abstract

Land surface and global hydrological models are often used to characterize global water and energy fluxes and stores and to model their future trajectories. This study evaluates estimates of streamflow and evapotranspiration (ET) obtained with a priori parameterization from a land surface model [CSIRO Atmosphere Biosphere Land Exchange (CABLE)] and a global hydrological model (H08) against a global dataset of streamflow from 644 largely unregulated catchments and ET from 98 flux towers and benchmarks their performance against two lumped conceptual daily rainfall–runoff models [modèle du Génie Rural à 4 paramètres Journalier (GR4J) and a simplified version of the HYDROLOG model (SIMHYD)]. The results show that all four models perform poorly in simulating the monthly and annual runoff values, with the rainfall–runoff models outperforming both CABLE and H08. The model biases in runoff are generally reflected as a complementary opposite bias in ET. All models can generally reproduce the observed seasonal and interannual runoff variability. The correlations between the modeled and observed runoff time series are reasonable, with the rainfall–runoff models performing slightly better than CABLE and H08 at the monthly time scale and all four models performing similarly at the annual time scale. The results suggest that while the land surface and global hydrological models cannot adequately simulate the actual runoff time series and long-term average volumes, they can reasonably simulate the monthly and interannual runoff variability and trends and can therefore be reliably used for broadscale or comparative regional and global water and energy balance assessments and simulations of future trajectories. They can be improved through validating the models or calibrating some of the more sensitive and less physically based parameters.

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Jianfeng Li, Yongqin David Chen, Lu Zhang, Qiang Zhang, and Francis H. S. Chiew

Abstract

Future changes in floods and water availability across China under representative concentration pathway 2.6 (RCP2.6) and RCP8.5 are studied by analyzing discharge simulations from the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP) with the consideration of uncertainties among global climate models (GCMs) and hydrologic models. Floods and water availability derived from ISI-MIP simulations are compared against observations. The uncertainties among models are quantified by model agreement. Only model agreement >50% is considered to generate reliable projections of floods and water availability and their relationships with climate change. The results show five major points. First, ISI-MIP simulations have acceptable ability in modeling floods and water availability. The spatial patterns of changes in floods and water availability highly depend on the outputs of GCMs. Uncertainties from GCMs/hydrologic models predominate the uncertainties in the wet/dry areas in eastern/northwestern China. Second, the magnitudes of floods throughout China increase during 2070–99 under RCP8.5 relative to those with the same return periods during 1971–2000. The increase rates of larger floods are higher than those of the smaller ones. Third, water availability decreases/increases in southern/northern China under RCP8.5, but changes negligibly under RCP2.6. Fourth, more severe floods in the future are driven by more intense precipitation extremes over China. The negligible change in mean precipitation and the increase in actual evapotranspiration reduce the water availability in southern China. Fifth, model agreements are higher in simulated floods than water availability because increasing precipitation extremes are more consistent among different GCM outputs compared to mean precipitation.

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Fangfang Zhao, Francis H. S. Chiew, Lu Zhang, Jai Vaze, Jean-Michel Perraud, and Ming Li

Abstract

Reliable predictions of water availability and streamflow characteristics, and the impact of climate and land use change on water availability, are central to water resources planning and management. This paper assesses the application of the widely used macroscale hydrologic model, the three-layer Variable Infiltration Capacity model (VIC-3L), to estimate daily streamflow in 191 unregulated catchments across southeast Australia and evaluates the regionalization of model parameters to predict streamflow in ungauged catchments. The parameter values in the VIC-3L model are estimated using three methods: default values, optimized values based on model calibration, and regionalized values based on spatial proximity method. The modeled streamflows from VIC-3L are assessed against the observed streamflows from the catchments. The authors discuss the model performance based on different parameter estimation methods and the effects of rainfall regimes on streamflow prediction. Also the implication of using a priori estimates of parameter values versus optimizing parameter values against observed streamflow to predict the impact of climate and land use change on streamflow is discussed. The VIC-3L model can simulate the streamflow in the catchments across southeast Australia reasonably well, with comparable results to those reported for the same region using conceptual rainfall-runoff models. The model performed better in summer-dominant rainfall catchments and wet catchments than in other catchments. The regionalization based on spatial proximity method performed reasonably well, which demonstrated the potential of VIC-3L model to predict streamflow in ungauged catchments in Australia.

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Jin Teng, Jai Vaze, Francis H. S. Chiew, Biao Wang, and Jean-Michel Perraud

Abstract

This paper assesses the relative uncertainties from GCMs and from hydrological models in modeling climate change impact on runoff across southeast Australia. Five lumped conceptual daily rainfall–runoff models are used to model runoff using historical daily climate series and using future climate series obtained by empirically scaling the historical climate series informed by simulations from 15 GCMs. The majority of the GCMs project a drier future for this region, particularly in the southern parts, and this is amplified as a bigger reduction in the runoff. The results indicate that the uncertainty sourced from the GCMs is much larger than the uncertainty in the rainfall–runoff models. The variability in the climate change impact on runoff results for one rainfall–runoff model informed by 15 GCMs (an about 28%–35% difference between the minimum and maximum results for mean annual, mean seasonal, and high runoff) is considerably larger than the variability in the results between the five rainfall–runoff models informed by 1 GCM (a less than 7% difference between the minimum and maximum results). The difference between the rainfall–runoff modeling results is larger in the drier regions for scenarios of big declines in future rainfall and in the low-flow characteristics. The rainfall–runoff modeling here considers only the runoff sensitivity to changes in the input climate data (primarily daily rainfall), and the difference between the hydrological modeling results is likely to be greater if potential changes in the climate–runoff relationship in a warmer and higher CO2 environment are modeled.

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Yongqiang Zhang, Ray Leuning, Francis H. S. Chiew, Enli Wang, Lu Zhang, Changming Liu, Fubao Sun, Murray C. Peel, Yanjun Shen, and Martin Jung

Abstract

Satellite and gridded meteorological data can be used to estimate evaporation (E) from land surfaces using simple diagnostic models. Two satellite datasets indicate a positive trend (first time derivative) in global available energy from 1983 to 2006, suggesting that positive trends in evaporation may occur in “wet” regions where energy supply limits evaporation. However, decadal trends in evaporation estimated from water balances of 110 wet catchments do not match trends in evaporation estimated using three alternative methods: 1) , a model-tree ensemble approach that uses statistical relationships between E measured across the global network of flux stations, meteorological drivers, and remotely sensed fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation; 2) , a Budyko-style hydrometeorological model; and 3) , the Penman–Monteith energy-balance equation coupled with a simple biophysical model for surface conductance. Key model inputs for the estimation of and are remotely sensed radiation and gridded meteorological fields and it is concluded that these data are, as yet, not sufficiently accurate to explain trends in E for wet regions. This provides a significant challenge for satellite-based energy-balance methods. Trends in for 87 “dry” catchments are strongly correlated to trends in precipitation (R 2 = 0.85). These trends were best captured by , which explicitly includes precipitation and available energy as model inputs.

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Cuan Petheram, Paul Rustomji, Tim R. McVicar, WenJu Cai, Francis H. S. Chiew, Jamie Vleeshouwer, Thomas G. Van Niel, LingTao Li, Richard G. Cresswell, Randall J. Donohue, Jin Teng, and Jean-Michel Perraud

Abstract

The majority of the world’s population growth to 2050 is projected to occur in the tropics. Hence, there is a serious need for robust methods for undertaking water resource assessments to underpin the sustainable management of water in tropical regions. This paper describes the largest and most comprehensive assessment of the future impacts of runoff undertaken in a tropical region using conceptual rainfall–runoff models (RRMs). Five conceptual RRMs were calibrated using data from 115 streamflow gauging stations, and model parameters were regionalized using a combination of spatial proximity and catchment similarity. Future rainfall and evapotranspiration projections (denoted here as GCMES) were transformed to catchment-scale variables by empirically scaling (ES) the historical climate series, informed by 15 global climate models (GCMs), to reflect a 1°C increase in global average surface air temperature. Using the best-performing RRM ensemble, approximately half the GCMES used resulted in a spatially averaged increase in mean annual runoff (by up to 29%) and half resulted in a decrease (by up to 26%). However, ~70% of the GCMES resulted in a difference of within ±5% of the historical rainfall (1930–2007). The range in modeled impact on runoff, as estimated by five RRMs (for individual GCMES), was compared to the range in modeled runoff using 15 GCMES (for individual RRMs). For mid- to high runoff metrics, better predictions will come from improved GCMES projections. A new finding of this study is that in the wet–dry tropics, for extremely large runoff events and low flows, improvements are needed in both GCMES and rainfall–runoff modeling.

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