Sensitivity of discharge and flood frequency to twenty-first century and late Holocene changes in climate and land use (River Meuse, northwest Europe)

P.J. Ward, H. Renssen, J.C.J.H. Aerts, P.H. Verburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We used a calibrated coupled climate–hydrological model to simulate Meuse discharge over the late Holocene (4000–3000 BP and 1000–2000 AD). We then used this model to simulate discharge in the twenty-first century under SRES emission scenarios A2 and B1, with and without future land use change. Mean discharge and medium-sized high-flow (e.g. Q99) frequency are higher in 1000–2000 AD than in 4000–3000 BP; almost all of this increase can be attributed to the conversion of forest to agriculture. In the twentieth century, mean discharge and the frequency of medium-sized high-flow events are higher than in the nineteenth century; this increase can be attributed to increased (winter half-year) precipitation. Between the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, anthropogenic climate change causes a further increase in discharge and medium-sized high-flow frequency; this increase is of a similar order of magnitude to the changes over the last 4,000 years. The magnitude of extreme flood events (return period 1,250-years) is higher in the twenty-first century than in any preceding period of the time-slices studied. In contrast to the long-term influence of deforestation on mean discharge, changes in forest cover have had little effect on these extreme floods, even on the millennial timescale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-202
JournalClimatic Change
Volume106
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • use change scenarios
  • water-balance
  • model output
  • impact
  • netherlands
  • belgium
  • future
  • variability
  • vegetation
  • catchment

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