A sensitivity study for water availability in the Northern Caucasus based on climate projections
Hagg, W., Shahgedanova, M., Mayer, C., Lambrecht, A. and Popovnin, V. (2010) A sensitivity study for water availability in the Northern Caucasus based on climate projections. Global and Planetary Change, 73 (3-4). pp. 161-171. ISSN 0921-8181
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.05.005
A strong climatic warming is currently observed in the Caucasus mountains, which has profound impact on runoff generation in the glaciated Glavny (Main) Range and on water availability in the whole region. To assess future changes in the hydrological cycle, the output of a general circulation model was downscaled statistically. For the 21st century, a further warming by 4–7 °C and a slight precipitation increase is predicted. Measured and simulated meteorological variables were used as input into a runoff model to transfer climate signals into a hydrological response under both present and future climate forcings. Runoff scenarios for the mid and the end of the 21st century were generated for different steps of deglaciation. The results show a satisfactory model performance for periods with observed runoff. Future water availability strongly depends on the velocity of glacier retreat. In a first phase, a surplus of water will increase flood risk in hot years and after continuing glacier reduction, annual runoff will again approximate current values. However, the seasonal distribution of streamflow will change towards runoff increase in spring and lower flows in summer.