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Distributed hydrologic modeling of a sparsely monitored basin in Sardinia, Italy, through hydrometeorological downscaling

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The water resources and hydrologic extremes in Mediterranean basins are heavily influenced by climate variability. Modeling these watersheds is difficult due to the complex nature of the hydrologic response as

The water resources and hydrologic extremes in Mediterranean basins are heavily influenced by climate variability. Modeling these watersheds is difficult due to the complex nature of the hydrologic response as well as the sparseness of hydrometeorological observations. In this work, we present a strategy to calibrate a distributed hydrologic model, known as TIN-based Real-time Integrated Basin Simulator (tRIBS), in the Rio Mannu basin (RMB), a medium-sized watershed (472.5 km[superscript 2]) located in an agricultural area in Sardinia, Italy. In the RMB, precipitation, streamflow and meteorological data were collected within different historical periods and at diverse temporal resolutions. We designed two statistical tools for downscaling precipitation and potential evapotranspiration data to create the hourly, high-resolution forcing for the hydrologic model from daily records. Despite the presence of several sources of uncertainty in the observations and model parameterization, the use of the disaggregated forcing led to good calibration and validation performances for the tRIBS model, when daily discharge observations were available. The methodology proposed here can be also used to disaggregate outputs of climate models and conduct high-resolution hydrologic simulations with the goal of quantifying the impacts of climate change on water resources and the frequency of hydrologic extremes within medium-sized basins.

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  • 2013-10-24

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Quantification of hydrologic impacts of climate change in a Mediterranean basin in Sardinia, Italy, through high-resolution simulations

Description

Future climate projections robustly indicate that the Mediterranean region will experience a significant decrease of mean annual precipitation and an increase in temperature. These changes are expected to seriously affect

Future climate projections robustly indicate that the Mediterranean region will experience a significant decrease of mean annual precipitation and an increase in temperature. These changes are expected to seriously affect the hydrologic regime, with a limitation of water availability and an intensification of hydrologic extremes, and to negatively impact local economies. In this study, we quantify the hydrologic impacts of climate change in the Rio Mannu basin (RMB), an agricultural watershed of 472.5 km[superscript 2] in Sardinia, Italy. To simulate the wide range of runoff generation mechanisms typical of Mediterranean basins, we adopted a physically based, distributed hydrologic model. The high-resolution forcings in reference and future conditions (30-year records for each period) were provided by four combinations of global and regional climate models, bias-corrected and downscaled in space and time (from ~25 km, 24 h to 5 km, 1 h) through statistical tools. The analysis of the hydrologic model outputs indicates that the RMB is expected to be severely impacted by future climate change. The range of simulations consistently predict (i) a significant diminution of mean annual runoff at the basin outlet, mainly due to a decreasing contribution of the runoff generation mechanisms depending on water available in the soil; (ii) modest variations in mean annual runoff and intensification of mean annual discharge maxima in flatter sub-basins with clay and loamy soils, likely due to a higher occurrence of infiltration excess runoff; (iii) reduction of soil water content and actual evapotranspiration in most areas of the basin; and (iv) a drop in the groundwater table. Results of this study are useful to support the adoption of adaptive strategies for management and planning of agricultural activities and water resources in the region.

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Date Created
  • 2014-12-15