The effect of climate policy on the impacts of climate change on river flows in the UK
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2013.12.046
This paper compares the effects of two indicative climate mitigation policies on river flows in six catchments in the UK with two scenarios representing un-mitigated emissions. It considers the consequences of uncertainty in both the pattern of catchment climate change as represented by different climate models and hydrological model parameterisation on the effects of mitigation policy. Mitigation policy has little effect on estimated flow magnitudes in 2030. By 2050 a mitigation policy which achieves a 2oC temperature rise target reduces impacts on low flows by 20-25% compared to a business-as-usual emissions scenario which increases temperatures by 4oC by the end of the 21st century, but this is small compared to the range in impacts between different climate model scenarios. However, the analysis also demonstrates that an early peak in emissions would reduce impacts by 40-60% by 2080 (compared with the 4oC pathway), easing the adaptation challenge over the long term, and can delay by several decades the impacts that would be experienced from around 2050 in the absence of policy. The estimated proportion of impacts avoided varies between climate model patterns and, to a lesser extent, hydrological model parameterisations, due to variations in the projected shape of the relationship between climate forcing and hydrological response.