Impact of climate change on low-flows in the river Meuse

M.J.M. de Wit, B. van den Hurk, P.M.M. Warmerdam, P.J.J.F. Torfs, E. Roulin, W.P.A. van Deursen

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In this study observed precipitation, temperature, and discharge records from the Meuse basin for the period 1911-2003 are analysed. The primary aim is to establish which meteorological conditions generate (critical) low-flows of the Meuse. This is achieved by examining the relationships between observed seasonal precipitation and temperature anomalies, and low-flow indices. Secondly, the possible impact of climate change on the (joint) occurrence of these low-flow generating meteorological conditions is addressed. This is based on the outcomes of recently reported RCM climate simulations for Europe given a scenario with increased atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations. The observed record (1911-2003) hints at the importance of multi-seasonal droughts in the generation of critical low-flows of the river Meuse. The RCM simulations point to a future with wetter winters and drier summers in Northwest Europe. No increase in the likelihood of multi-seasonal droughts is simulated. However, the RCM scenario runs produce multi-seasonal precipitation and temperature anomalies that are out of the range of the observed record for the period 1911-2003. The impact of climate change on low-flows has also been simulated with a hydrological model. This simulation indicates that climate change will lead to a decrease in the average discharge of the Meuse during the low-flow season. However, the model has difficulties to simulate critical low-flow conditions of the Meuse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-372
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • hydrological model
  • change scenarios
  • rhine basin
  • runoff
  • temperature
  • simulations
  • resources

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    de Wit, M. J. M., van den Hurk, B., Warmerdam, P. M. M., Torfs, P. J. J. F., Roulin, E., & van Deursen, W. P. A. (2007). Impact of climate change on low-flows in the river Meuse. Climatic Change, 82(3-4), 351-372.