The impact of climate change on groundwater recharge and runoff in a humid, equatorial catchment: sensitivity of projections to rainfall intensity

Mileham, Lucinda, Taylor, Richard G, Todd, Martin, Tindimugaya, Callist and Thompson, Julian (2009) The impact of climate change on groundwater recharge and runoff in a humid, equatorial catchment: sensitivity of projections to rainfall intensity. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 54 (4). pp. 727-738. ISSN 0262-6667

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Abstract

Projected warming in equatorial Africa, accompanied by greater evaporation and more frequent heavy precipitation events, may have substantial but uncertain impacts on terrestrial hydrology. Quantitative analyses of climate change impacts on catchment hydrology require high-resolution (<50 km) climate data provided by regional climate models (RCMs). We apply validated precipitation and temperature data from the RCM PRECIS (Providing Regional Climates for Impact Studies) to a semi-distributed soil moisture balance model (SMBM) in order to quantify the impacts of climate change on groundwater recharge and runoff in a medium-sized catchment (2098 km2) in the humid tropics of southwestern Uganda. The SMBM explicitly accounts for changes in soil moisture, and partitions effective precipitation into groundwater recharge and runoff. Under the A2 emissions scenario (2070-2100), climate projections from PRECIS feature not only rises in catchment precipitation and modelled potential evapotranspiration by 14% and 53%, respectively, but also increases in rainfall intensity. We show that the common application of the historical rainfall distribution using delta factors to the SMBM grossly underestimates groundwater recharge (i.e. 55% decrease relative to the baseline period of 1961-1990). By transforming the rainfall distribution to account for changes in rainfall intensity, we project increases in recharge and runoff of 53% and 137%, respectively, relative to the baseline period.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Depositing User: Martin Todd
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:13
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2012 16:57
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/11149
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