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Journal Articles Environmental Research Letters Year : 2013

Future changes in precipitation and impacts on extreme streamflow over Amazonian sub-basins

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Abstract

Because of climate change, much attention is drawn to the Amazon River basin, whose hydrology has already been strongly affected by extreme events during the past 20 years. Hydrological annual extreme variations (i.e. low/high flows) associated with precipitation (and evapotranspiration) changes are investigated over the Amazon River sub-basins using the land surface model ORCHIDEE and a multimodel approach. Climate change scenarios from up to eight AR4 Global Climate Models based on three emission scenarios were used to build future hydrological projections in the region, for two periods of the 21st century. For the middle of the century under the SRESA1B scenario, no change is found in high flow on the main stem of the Amazon River (Óbidos station), but a systematic discharge decrease is simulated during the recession period, leading to a 10% low-flow decrease. Contrasting discharge variations are pointed out depending on the location in the basin. In the western upper part of the basin, which undergoes an annual persistent increase in precipitation, high flow shows a 7% relative increase for the middle of the 21st century and the signal is enhanced for the end of the century (12%). By contrast, simulated precipitation decreases during the dry seasons over the southern, eastern and northern parts of the basin lead to significant low-flow decrease at several stations, especially in the Xingu River, where it reaches -50%, associated with a 9% reduction in the runoff coefficient. A 18% high-flow decrease is also found in this river. In the north, the low-flow decrease becomes higher toward the east: a 55% significant decrease in the eastern Branco River is associated with a 13% reduction in the runoff coefficient. The estimation of the streamflow elasticity to precipitation indicates that southern sub-basins (except for the mountainous Beni River), that have low runoff coefficients, will become more responsive to precipitation change (with a 5 to near 35% increase in elasticity) than the western sub-basins, experiencing high runoff coefficient and no change in streamflow elasticity to precipitation. These projections raise important issues for populations living near the rivers whose activity is regulated by the present annual cycle of waters. The question of their adaptability has already arisen.
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hal-01092290 , version 1 (09-12-2014)

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Matthieu Guimberteau, Josyane Ronchail, Jhan Carlo Espinoza Villar, Matthieu Lengaigne, Benjamin Sultan, et al.. Future changes in precipitation and impacts on extreme streamflow over Amazonian sub-basins. Environmental Research Letters, 2013, 8 (1), p.1-14. ⟨10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/014035⟩. ⟨hal-01092290⟩
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