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Effect of climate change on the hydrological regime of navigable water courses: Subreport 1. Literature review of the climate research in Belgium
Vansteenkiste, T.; Pereira, F.; Willems, P.; Vanneuville, W.; Van Eerdenbrugh, K.; Mostaert, F. (2011). Effect of climate change on the hydrological regime of navigable water courses: Subreport 1. Literature review of the climate research in Belgium. Version 2.0. WL Rapporten, 706_18. Flanders Hydraulics Research: Antwerp. III, 46 pp.
Part of: WL Rapporten. Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium: Antwerpen. , more

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Document type: Project report

    Climatic changes
    Earth sciences > Geology > Hydrology
    Impact analysis
    Inventories > Inventory
    Belgium [Marine Regions]

Authors  Top 
  • Vansteenkiste, T.
  • Pereira, F., more
  • Willems, P., more
  • Vanneuville, W., more
  • Van Eerdenbrugh, K., more
  • Mostaert, F., more

    Over the past decennia many studies on the impacts of climate change on water resources have been carried out for the Belgian territory. This inventory attempts to provide a summarized literature review of these studies and tries to find an answer to the question what role hydrological models have in climate change impact modelling. Many different hydrological models have been developed with different characteristics and purposes. For Belgium, conceptual rainfall-runoff models like NAM and PDM are commonly used due to their significant advantages regarding parameter estimation and computational time, when compared to physically based models. Physically based, distributed models require a large amount of high quality spatially-explicit input data. They are often difficult to parameterise and have extended simulation times. Only a limited number of studies with these models are known for Belgian catchments. Intermediate physical-conceptual models also exist and have some applications in Belgium (e.g. WetSpa, SWAT). Investigation of the model performance showed that all hydrological model types are able to simulate the overall hydrological regime for Belgian catchments in an acceptable way.

    The 3 different types of hydrological models have been used recently to simulate the climate scenarios for Belgium and to assess the impact on hydrological extremes. All models simulate similar trends in the future flow extremes: higher as well as lower winter discharges can be expected for future winter periods; while summer discharges are expected to decrease (and will continue to decrease till 2100) due to climate change. When comparing the high and low flow changes between the models major differences were found for low flow minima, while the differences in high flow changes were rather limited. One reason is that precipitation is the dominant factor in high flow estimation, while for low flow modeling the model structure plays a more important role. The physically based MIKE SHE model envisages a considerable smaller decrease of the low flows than other models (HBV, NAM, WetSpa). This difference might be a consequence of the higher physical detail of the MIKE SHE model, which has a mechanism that more realistically accounts for groundwater flow. Simplifying the representation of the groundwater system by the (semi-)conceptual models might lead to discrepancies in the climate projections. FORMULIER: F-WL-PP10-1 Versie 02 GELDIG VANAF: 17/04/2009 However, it is not clear if the more complex and detailed models will lead to better hydrological predictions. In spite of the uncertainties among the applied models, the results indicate a wide range of changes in the discharge regime by 2100. The results should therefore be interpreted as trends and not as an accurate quantitative prediction of hydrological changes.

    In climate research in neighbouring countries, the importance of considering the uncertainties related to the hydrological model has been reported. While uncertainty due to climate modelling and scenarios has been well documented, little research has been conducted on the uncertainty in climate change impact assessments due to limitations in impact models.

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