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An application of the UKCIP02 climate change scenarios to flood estimation by continuous simulation for a gauged catchment in the northeast of Scotland, UK (with uncertainty)

Journal of Hydrology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2005.12.024
  • Climate Change
  • Flood
  • Topmodel
  • Generalised Likelihood Uncertainty Estimation
  • Stochastic Model
  • Mathematics


Summary This paper explores the potential impacts of climate change upon flood frequency for the gauged, Lossie catchment in the northeast of Scotland, UK. This catchment has significant flooding problems, but only limited data availability (particularly with respect to rainfall). A continuous simulation methodology, which uses a stochastic rainfall model to drive the rainfall-runoff model TOPMODEL, is utilised. Behavioural parameter sets for TOPMODEL are identified prior to the climate change runs using the Generalised Likelihood Uncertainty Estimation (GLUE) methodology. The “Low Emissions”, “Medium-Low Emissions”, “Medium-High Emissions” and “High Emissions” UKCIP02 climate change scenarios, obtained from the HadCM3 global climate model (GCM) and HadRM3 regional climate model (RCM) simulations, are used at the catchment scale. Two further scenarios (“H-Dry” and “H-Wet”), based upon the model uncertainty margins available for the UKCIP02 “High Emissions” scenario, are also developed in order to explore the possible range of changes to daily rainfall and temperature estimated from GCMs other than HadCM3. It is demonstrated that, while flood magnitude changes under all six of the climate change scenarios considered, the magnitude and direction of that change is dependent upon the choice of scenario. An overlap between the likelihood weighted uncertainty bounds estimated under the conditions of the current climate and those estimated under the four UKCIP02 scenarios and the “H-Dry” scenario is also observed. These findings highlight the need to consider multiple climate change scenarios and account for model uncertainties when estimating the possible effects of climate change upon flood frequency.

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