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Chuanhao Wu, Pat J.-F. Yeh, Jiali Ju, Yi-Ying Chen, Kai Xu, Heng Dai, Jie Niu, Bill X. Hu, and Guoru Huang

Abstract

Drought projections are accompanied with large uncertainties due to varying estimates of future warming scenarios from different modeling and forcing data. Using the standardized precipitation index (SPI), this study presents a global assessment of uncertainties in drought characteristics (severity S and frequency Df) projections based on the simulations of 28 general circulation models (GCMs) from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). A hierarchical framework incorporating a variance-based global sensitivity analysis was developed to quantify the uncertainties in drought characteristics projections at various spatial (global and regional) and temporal (decadal and 30-yr) scales due to 28 GCMs, three representative concentration pathway scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP8.5), and two bias-correction (BC) methods. The results indicated that the largest uncertainty contribution in the globally projected S and Df is from the GCM uncertainty (>60%), followed by BC (<35%) and RCP (<16%) uncertainty. Spatially, BC reduces the spreads among GCMs particularly in Northern Hemisphere (NH), leading to smaller GCM uncertainty in the NH than the Southern Hemisphere (SH). In contrast, the BC and RCP uncertainties are larger in the NH than the SH, and the BC uncertainty can be larger than GCM uncertainty for some regions (e.g., southwest Asia). At the decadal and 30-yr time scales, the contributions for three uncertainty sources show larger variability in S than Df projections, especially in the SH. The GCM and BC uncertainties show overall decreasing trends with time, while the RCP uncertainty is expected to increase over time and even can be larger than BC uncertainty for some regions (e.g., northern Asia) by the end of this century.

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Jiali Ju, Heng Dai, Chuanhao Wu, Bill X. Hu, Ming Ye, Xingyuan Chen, Dongwei Gui, Haifan Liu, and Jin Zhang

Abstract

Comparison and quantification of different uncertainties of future climate change involved in the modeling of a hydrological system are highly important for both hydrological modelers and policy-makers. However, few studies have accurately estimated the relative importance of different sources of uncertainty at different spatiotemporal scales. Here, a hierarchical sensitivity analysis framework (HSAF) incorporated with a variance-based global sensitivity analysis is developed to quantify the spatiotemporal contributions of different uncertainties in hydrological impacts of climate change in two different climatic (humid and semiarid) basins in China. The uncertainty sources include three emission scenarios (ESs), 20 global climate models (GCs), three hydrological models (HMs), and the associated sensitive hydrological parameters (PAs) screened and sampled by the Morris and Latin hypercube sampling methods, respectively. The results indicate that the overall trend of uncertainty is PA > HM > GC > ES, but their uncertainties have discrepancies in projections of different hydrological variables. The HM uncertainty in annual and monthly discharge projections is generally larger than the PA uncertainty in the humid basin than semiarid basin. The PA has greater uncertainty in extreme hydrological event (annual peak discharge) projections than in annual discharge projections for both basins (particularly for the humid basin), but contributes larger uncertainty to annual and monthly discharge projections in the semiarid basin than humid basin. The GC contributes larger uncertainty in all the hydrological variables projections in the humid basin than semiarid basin, while the ES uncertainty is rather limited in both basins. Overall, our results suggest there is greater spatiotemporal variability of hydrological uncertainty in more arid regions.

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