Title: Future Changes in Flood Hazard in Europe
Citation: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Climate and Water p. 115-120
Publisher: Finnish Environment Institute
Publication Year: 2007
JRC N°: JRC37505
URI: http://www.environment.fi/download.asp?contentid=73290&lan=en
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Future climate change will not only bring about changes in the mean climate state, but also in the extremes. To investigate the consequences for flood hazard in Europe, we analysed climate simulations from a recent experiment with the regional climate model HIRHAM. The boundary conditions were derived from the global model HadAM3H/HadCM3 that was forced according to the IPCC emission scenario A2. The experiment consisted of two 30-year time slices corresponding to 1961-1990 and 2071-2100, respectively. These data, with an unprecedented horizontal resolution of approximately 12 km, were used to drive the hydrological model LISFLOOD, which has been developed for operational flood forecasting at the European scale. In this way we were able to simulate river discharge at 5 km grid scale. By means of extreme value analysis we calculated the changes in runoff statistics and flood frequency. The results show an increase in mean precipitation of up to 60% in winter over much of Scandinavia, but a decrease of sometimes more than 50% in summer over most of the Mediterranean, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula. In summer most of Western and Central Europe can also expect much drier conditions. The extreme precipitation levels show a much different and more localized pattern of change, but seem to increase across most of the continent, with the exception of Southern Spain. As a result, the 100-year discharge level increases in many rivers across Europe, even in areas that are generally becoming much drier, such as the Mediterranean region. In most rivers in Northern Europe, though, the extreme discharge levels are projected to decrease, which may be explained by warmer and shorter winters and consequently a reduction in the snowmelt runoff peak in spring.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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