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G. T. Aronica and B. Bonaccorso

Abstract

In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to hydropower generation, since it is a renewable, efficient, and reliable source of energy, as well as an effective tool to reduce the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from human activities. At the same time, however, hydropower is among the most vulnerable industries to global warming, because water resources are closely linked to climate changes. Indeed, the effects of climate change on water availability are expected to affect hydropower generation with special reference to southern countries, which are supposed to face dryer conditions in the next decades. The aim of this paper is to qualitatively assess the impact of future climate change on the hydrological regime of the Alcantara River basin, eastern Sicily (Italy), based on Monte Carlo simulations. Synthetic series of daily rainfall and temperature are generated, based on observed data, through a first-order Markov chain and an autoregressive moving average (ARMA) model, respectively, for the current scenario and two future scenarios at 2025. In particular, relative changes in the monthly mean and standard deviation values of daily rainfall and temperature at 2025, predicted by the Hadley Centre Coupled Model, version 3 (HadCM3) for A2 and B2 greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, are adopted to generate future values of precipitation and temperature. Synthetic series for the two climatic scenarios are then introduced as input into the Identification of Unit Hydrographs and Component Flows from Rainfall, Evapotranspiration and Streamflow Data (IHACRES) model to simulate the hydrological response of the basin. The effects of climate change are investigated by analyzing potential modification of the resulting flow duration curves and utilization curves, which allow a site's energy potential for the design of run-of-river hydropower plants to be estimated.

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