Characterizing uncertainty of the hydrologic impacts of climate change
journal contributionposted on 25.11.2016, 12:08 by Martyn P. Clark, Robert Wilby, Ethan D. Gutmann, Julie A. Vano, Subhrendu Gangopadhyay, Andrew W. Wood, Hayley J. Fowler, Christel Prudhomme, Jeffrey R. Arnold, Levi D. Brekke
The high climate sensitivity of hydrologic systems, the importance of those systems to society, and the imprecise nature of future climate projections all motivate interest in characterizing uncertainty in the hydrologic impacts of climate change. We discuss recent research that exposes important sources of uncertainty that are commonly neglected by the water management community, especially, uncertainties associated with internal climate system variability, and hydrologic modeling. We also discuss research exposing several issues with widely used climate downscaling methods. We propose that progress can be made following parallel paths: first, by explicitly characterizing the uncertainties throughout the modeling process (rather than using an ad hoc “ensemble of opportunity”) and second, by reducing uncertainties through developing criteria for excluding poor methods/models, as well as with targeted research to improve modeling capabilities. We argue that such research to reveal, reduce, and represent uncertainties is essential to establish a defensible range of quantitative hydrologic storylines of climate change impacts.
- Social Sciences
- Geography and Environment