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  • Source Publication: Hydrological Processes, 28, 4294–4310. doi: 10.1002/hyp.9997 Authors: Shrestha, R. R., D.L. Peters and M.A. Schnorbus Publication Date: Jul 2014

    It is a common practice to employ hydrologic models for assessing alterations to streamflow as a result of anthropogenically driven changes, such as riverine, land use, and climate change. However, the ability of the models to replicate different components of the hydrograph simultaneously is not clear. Hence, this study evaluates the ability of a standard hydrologic model set-up: Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrologic model for two headwater sub-basins in the Fraser River (Salmon and Willow), British Columbia, Canada, with climate inputs derived from observations and statistically downscaled global climate models (GCMs); to simulate six general water resource indicators (WRIs) and 32 ecologically relevant indicators of hydrologic alterations (IHA). The results show a generally good skill of the observation-driven VIC model in replicating most of the WRIs and IHAs. Although the WRIs, including annual volume, centre of timing, and seasonal flows, and the IHAs, including maximum and minimum flows, were reasonably well replicated, statistically significant differences in some of the monthly flows, number and duration of flow pulses, rise and fall rates, and reversals were noted. In the case of GCM-driven results, additional monthly, maximum, and minimum flow indicators produced statistically significant differences. A number of issues with the model input/output data, hydrologic model parametrization and structure as well as downscaling methods were identified, which lead to such discrepancies. Therefore, there is a need to exercise caution in the use of model-simulated indicators. Overall, the WRIs and IHAs can be useful tools for evaluating changes in an altered hydrologic system, provided the skill and limitations of the model in replicating these indicators are understood. © 2013 Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. Hydrological Processes © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  • Source Publication: Nature Climate Change, 4, 1082–1085, doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE2410 Authors: Sun, Y., X. Zhang, F.W. Zwiers, L. Song, H. Wan, T. Hu, H. Yin and G. Ren Publication Date: Jul 2014

    The summer of 2013 was the hottest on record in Eastern China. Severe extended heatwaves affected the most populous and economically developed part of China and caused substantial economic and societal impacts. The estimated direct economic losses from the accompanying drought alone total 59 billion RMB. Summer (June–August) mean temperature in the region has increased by 0.82 °C since reliable observations were established in the 1950s, with the five hottest summers all occurring in the twenty-first century. It is challenging to attribute extreme events to causes. Nevertheless, quantifying the causes of such extreme summer heat and projecting its future likelihood is necessary to develop climate adaptation strategies. We estimate that anthropogenic influence has caused a more than 60-fold increase in the likelihood of the extreme warm 2013 summer since the early 1950s, and project that similarly hot summers will become even more frequent in the future, with fully 50% of summers being hotter than the 2013 summer in two decades even under the moderate RCP4.5 emissions scenario. Without adaptation to reduce vulnerability to the effects of extreme heat, this would imply a rapid increase in risks from extreme summer heat to Eastern China.

  • Authors: Trevor Q. Murdock, Alex. J. Cannon, Stephen R. Sobie Publication Date: Jul 2014

    This report documents the production of statistically downscaled future climate projections by the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) for Environment Canada under contract number KM040-131148/A. The report consists of four sections. First, the selection and construction of the observational dataset that was developed to train the selected downscaling method is described. In section 2, results are provided that document the rationale for selecting BCCAQ as the primary downscaling method. In section 3, the GCM and RCM simulations downscaled are listed and notes on data access and meta-data information are provided. Finally, Section 4 is an overview of selected results of projected changes in ETCCDI extremes indices and the magnitude of 20-year return values over North America.

  • Authors: PCIC & Pinna Sustainability Publication Date: Jul 2014

    To improve local understanding and manage the impacts of atmospheric river events, the B.C. Ministry of Environment commissioned work to summarize the current state of knowledge pertaining to BC on this topic and conduct a multi-agency qualitative risk assessment.
    In April 2013, scientists and researchers gathered in Victoria, B.C. to review and summarize the current state of knowledge on atmospheric rivers. As a result of their efforts, the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium and Pinna Sustainability produced this "Atmospheric River State of Knowledge Report."

  • Authors: van der Kamp, D.W., G. Bürger and A. T. Werner Publication Date: Jun 2014
  • Source Publication: Environmental Research Letters, 9, 064023, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/6/064023. Authors: Jana Sillmann, Markus G Donat, John C Fyfe and Francis W Zwiers Publication Date: Jun 2014

    The discrepancy between recent observed and simulated trends in global mean surface temperature has provoked a debate about possible causes and implications for future climate change projections. However, little has been said in this discussion about observed and simulated trends in global temperature extremes. Here we assess trend patterns in temperature extremes and evaluate the consistency between observed and simulated temperature extremes over the past four decades (1971–2010) in comparison to the recent 15 years (1996–2010). We consider the coldest night and warmest day in a year in the observational dataset HadEX2 and in the current generation of global climate models (CMIP5). In general, the observed trends fall within the simulated range of trends, with better consistency for the longer period. Spatial trend patterns differ for the warm and cold extremes, with the warm extremes showing continuous positive trends across the globe and the cold extremes exhibiting a coherent cooling pattern across the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes that has emerged in the recent 15 years and is not reproduced by the models. This regional inconsistency between models and observations might be a key to understanding the recent hiatus in global mean temperature warming.

  • Source Publication: Environmental Research Letters, 9, 064023,doi:10.1088/1748‐9326/9/6/064023 Authors: Sillmann, J., M.G. Donat, J.C. Fyfe and F.W. Zwiers Publication Date: Jun 2014

    The discrepancy between recent observed and simulated trends in global mean surface temperature has provoked a debate about possible causes and implications for future climate change projections. However, little has been said in this discussion about observed and simulated trends in global temperature extremes. Here we assess trend patterns in temperature extremes and evaluate the consistency between observed and simulated temperature extremes over the past four decades (1971–2010) in comparison to the recent 15 years (1996–2010). We consider the coldest night and warmest day in a year in the observational dataset HadEX2 and in the current generation of global climate models (CMIP5). In general, the observed trends fall within the simulated range of trends, with better consistency for the longer period. Spatial trend patterns differ for the warm and cold extremes, with the warm extremes showing continuous positive trends across the globe and the cold extremes exhibiting a coherent cooling pattern across the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes that has emerged in the recent 15 years and is not reproduced by the models. This regional inconsistency between models and observations might be a key to understanding the recent hiatus in global mean temperature warming.

  • Authors: Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Jun 2014

    A recent meta-analysis published in the journal Nature Climate Change, by Challinor et al. (2014) examines 1,722 crop model simulations, run using global climate model output under several emissions scenarios, to evaluate the potential effects of climate change and adaptation on crop yield. The authors find that, without adaptation, projected corn, rice and wheat production is reduced when areas experience 2.0 °C or more of local warming, with losses greater in the second half of the century due to larger changes in climate. Crop-level adaptations are projected to be able to increase yields by an average of 7-15% when compared to similar scenarios that do not utilize adaptation. Projections indicate that adaptation may be more successful for wheat and rice than for corn. Though less data is available on yield variability, Challinor et al. find that it is likely to increase.

  • Authors: PCIC Publication Date: Jun 2014

    PCIC Update Contents: Project Focus Statistically Downscaling Climate Scenarios Across North America; Lectures by Aurelian Ribes on Detection and Attribution; Fall Launch of PCIC Seminar Series; IPCC Working Group III Report Approved; New Report and Summary: The Monthly Drought Code as a Metric for Fire Weather in Southeast BC; Congratulations to PCIC Researcher Christian Seiler on his Successful PhD Defense; PCIC Welcomes New Programmer Analyst and New Research Associate; Newsworthy Science; Recent Papers Authored by PCIC Staff.

    Additional search terms: Okanagan, Drought, Crop Yield, Ocean Conditions, Continental Shelf, Temperature and Precipitation Extremes across Gridded In Situ and Reanalysis Datasets, Shaham Sharifian, Sanjiv Kumar, Canadian Sea Ice and Snow Evolution Network, CANSISE, Climate Change Mitigation, BCCAQ, CMIP5 NARCAPP, CordDEX.

  • Authors: PCIC Publication Date: Jun 2014
  • Authors: PCIC Publication Date: May 2014

    This Science Brief covers two papers by in the journal Atmosphere-Ocean, on future ocean conditions for British Columbia’s continental shelf. Using an ocean circulation model for the shelf, the authors find that surface temperatures may increase by 0.5 to 2.0 °C, seasonal surface salinity may drop by up to 2 PSS in some areas, and that Haida Eddies will strengthen, as will the Vancouver Island Coastal Current and freshwater discharges into coastal waters.

  • Source Publication: Journal of Hydrometeorology, 15, 844–860, doi:10.1175/JHM-D-13-030.1. Authors: Rajesh R. Shrestha, Markus A. Schnorbus, Arelia T. Werner, and Francis W. Zwiers Publication Date: Apr 2014

    This study analyzed potential hydroclimatic change in the Peace River basin in the province of British Columbia, Canada, based on two structurally different approaches: (i) statistically downscaled global climate models (GCMs) using the bias-corrected spatial disaggregation (BCSD) and (ii) dynamically downscaled GCM with the Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM). Additionally, simulated hydrologic changes from the GCM–BCSD-driven Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model were compared to the CRCM integrated Canadian Land Surface Scheme (CLASS) output. The results show good agreements of the GCM–BCSD–VIC simulated precipitation, temperature, and runoff with observations, while the CRCM-simulated results differ substantially from observations. Nevertheless, differences (between the 2050s and 1970s) obtained from the two approaches are qualitatively similar for precipitation and temperature, although they are substantially different for snow water equivalent and runoff. The results obtained from the five Coupled Global Climate Model, version 3, (CGCM3)-driven CRCM runs are similar, suggesting that the multidecadal internal variability is not a large source of uncertainty for the Peace River basin. Overall, the GCM–BCSD–VIC approach, for now, remains the preferred approach for projecting basin-scale future hydrologic changes, provided that it explicitly accounts for the biases and includes plausible snow and runoff parameterizations. However, even with the GCM–BCSD–VIC approach, projections differ considerably depending on which of an ensemble of eight GCMs is used. Such differences reemphasize the uncertain nature of future hydroclimatic projections.

  • Source Publication: Journal of Hydrometeorology, 15, 2, 844‐860, doi: 10.1175/JHM‐D‐13‐030.1 Authors: Shrestha, R.R., M.A. Schnorbus, A.T. Werner and F.W. Zwiers Publication Date: Apr 2014

    This study analyzed potential hydroclimatic change in the Peace River basin in the province of British Columbia, Canada, based on two structurally different approaches: (i) statistically downscaled global climate models (GCMs) using the bias-corrected spatial disaggregation (BCSD) and (ii) dynamically downscaled GCM with the Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM). Additionally, simulated hydrologic changes from the GCM–BCSD-driven Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model were compared to the CRCM integrated Canadian Land Surface Scheme (CLASS) output. The results show good agreements of the GCM–BCSD–VIC simulated precipitation, temperature, and runoff with observations, while the CRCM-simulated results differ substantially from observations. Nevertheless, differences (between the 2050s and 1970s) obtained from the two approaches are qualitatively similar for precipitation and temperature, although they are substantially different for snow water equivalent and runoff. The results obtained from the five Coupled Global Climate Model, version 3, (CGCM3)-driven CRCM runs are similar, suggesting that the multidecadal internal variability is not a large source of uncertainty for the Peace River basin. Overall, the GCM–BCSD–VIC approach, for now, remains the preferred approach for projecting basin-scale future hydrologic changes, provided that it explicitly accounts for the biases and includes plausible snow and runoff parameterizations. However, even with the GCM–BCSD–VIC approach, projections differ considerably depending on which of an ensemble of eight GCMs is used. Such differences reemphasize the uncertain nature of future hydroclimatic projections.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Apr 2014
  • Authors: Nodelman, J. and co-authors [PCIC is a contributing author] Publication Date: Mar 2014
  • Source Publication: Hydrological Processes, 28, 14, 4294–4310, doi:10.1002/hyp.9997. Authors: Rajesh R. Shrestha, Daniel L. Peters and Markus A. Schnorbus Publication Date: Mar 2014

    It is a common practice to employ hydrologic models for assessing alterations to streamflow as a result of anthropogenically driven changes, such as riverine, land use, and climate change. However, the ability of the models to replicate different components of the hydrograph simultaneously is not clear. Hence, this study evaluates the ability of a standard hydrologic model set-up: Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrologic model for two headwater sub-basins in the Fraser River (Salmon and Willow), British Columbia, Canada, with climate inputs derived from observations and statistically downscaled global climate models (GCMs); to simulate six general water resource indicators (WRIs) and 32 ecologically relevant indicators of hydrologic alterations (IHA). The results show a generally good skill of the observation-driven VIC model in replicating most of the WRIs and IHAs. Although the WRIs, including annual volume, centre of timing, and seasonal flows, and the IHAs, including maximum and minimum flows, were reasonably well replicated, statistically significant differences in some of the monthly flows, number and duration of flow pulses, rise and fall rates, and reversals were noted. In the case of GCM-driven results, additional monthly, maximum, and minimum flow indicators produced statistically significant differences. A number of issues with the model input/output data, hydrologic model parametrization and structure as well as downscaling methods were identified, which lead to such discrepancies. Therefore, there is a need to exercise caution in the use of model-simulated indicators. Overall, the WRIs and IHAs can be useful tools for evaluating changes in an altered hydrologic system, provided the skill and limitations of the model in replicating these indicators are understood.

  • Source Publication: International. Journal of Climatology, 34, 2, 326‐342, doi:10.1002/joc.3689 Authors: Whan, K., B. Timbal and J. Lindesay Publication Date: Feb 2014

    The intensity and position of the sub-tropical ridge (STR) have strong relationships with rainfall variability in southern Australia. The combined effect of intensity and position in March-April-May (MAM) and June-July-August (JJA) is the focus of this research. Linear statistics were used first: area-averaged and Australia-wide spatial correlations of STR intensity and position with precipitation in south-west eastern Australia reveal that STR intensity has a much stronger and more widespread relationship with precipitation in both seasons. Over time, these relationships vary in magnitude and spatial extent with the sign of the correlation changing between two 50-year epochs. These nonlinearities were investigated further using classification trees. Area-averaged precipitation data (terciles) for south-west eastern Australia was classified on the basis of STR intensity and position. In both seasons the classification trees identify STR intensity as the primary partition defining the dry group, supporting the linear analysis. In the transition season of MAM, the time of year when the mean position of the STR is more southerly, STR position is important in distinguishing between a ‘winter-like’ and a ‘summer-like’ wet groups, providing STR intensity is low. Vector wind analyses were computed to explain the composite seasonal precipitation anomaly results in terms of different circulation patterns associated with these two wet groups. The frequency of wet and dry cases in each group was examined with changes evident over the recent years. The research confirms that STR intensity is more important than STR position in explaining inter-annual rainfall variability across southern Australia but also demonstrates the additional role of STR position in MAM. These results explain the low correlation between rainfall and STR position and why this relationship has evolved during the 20th century as the mean location of the STR has shifted south in MAM.

  • Authors: PCIC Publication Date: Feb 2014
  • Authors: PCIC Publication Date: Jan 2014
  • Source Publication: Hydrological Processes, 28, 3, 1170‐1189, doi: 10.1002/hyp.9661 Authors: Schnorbus, M., A. Werner and K. Bennett Publication Date: Jan 2014

    Hydrologic modelling has been applied to assess the impacts of projected climate change within three study areas in the Peace, Campbell and Columbia River watersheds of British Columbia, Canada. These study areas include interior nival (two sites) and coastal hybrid nival–pluvial (one site) hydro-climatic regimes. Projections were based on a suite of eight global climate models driven by three emission scenarios to project potential climate responses for the 2050s period (2041–2070). Climate projections were statistically downscaled and used to drive a macro-scale hydrology model at high spatial resolution. This methodology covers a large range of potential future climates for British Columbia and explicitly addresses both emissions and global climate model uncertainty in the final hydrologic projections. Snow water equivalent is projected to decline throughout the Peace and Campbell and at low elevations within the Columbia. At high elevations within the Columbia, snow water equivalent is projected to increase with increased winter precipitation. Streamflow projections indicate timing shifts in all three watersheds, predominantly because of changes in the dynamics of snow accumulation and melt. The coastal hybrid site shows the largest sensitivity, shifting to more rainfall-dominated system by mid-century. The two interior sites are projected to retain the characteristics of a nival regime by mid-century, although streamflow-timing shifts result from increased mid-winter rainfall and snowmelt, and earlier freshet onset.

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