Hydrologic Impacts Of Climate Change : Uncertainty Modeling
General Circulation Models (GCMs) are tools designed to simulate time series of climate variables globally, accounting for eﬀects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They attempt to represent the physical processes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and land surface. They are currently the most credible tools available for simulating the response of the global climate system to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, and to provide estimates of climate variables (e.g. air temperature, precipitation, wind speed, pressure etc.) on a global scale. GCMs demonstrate a signiﬁcant skill at the continental and hemispheric spatial scales and incorporate a large proportion of the complexity of the global system; they are, however, inherently unable to represent local subgrid-scale features and dynamics. The spatial scale on which a GCM can operate (e.g., 3.75° longitude x 3.75° latitude for Coupled Global Climate Model, CGCM2) is very coarse compared to that of a hydrologic process (e.g., precipitation in a region, streamﬂow in a river etc.) of interest in the climate change impact assessment studies. Moreover, accuracy of GCMs, in general, decreases from climate related variables, such as wind, temperature, humidity and air pressure to hydrologic variables such as precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoﬀ and soil moisture, which are also simulated by GCMs. These limitations of the GCMs restrict the direct use of their output in hydrology. This thesis deals with developing statistical downscaling models to assess climate change impacts and methodologies to address GCM and scenario uncertainties in assessing climate change impacts on hydrology. Downscaling, in the context of hydrology, is a method to project the hydrologic variables (e.g., rainfall and streamﬂow) at a smaller scale based on large scale climatological variables (e.g., mean sea level pressure) simulated by a GCM. A statistical downscaling model is ﬁrst developed in the thesis to predict the rainfall over Orissa meteorological subdivision from GCM output of large scale Mean Sea Level Pressure (MSLP). Gridded monthly MSLP data for the period 1948 to 2002, are obtained from the National Center for Environmental Prediction/ National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) reanalysis project for a region spanning 150 N -250 N in latitude and 800 E -900 E in longitude that encapsulates the study region. The downscaling model comprises of Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Fuzzy Clustering and Linear Regression. PCA is carried out to reduce the dimensionality of the larger scale MSLP and also to convert the correlated variables to uncorrelated variables. Fuzzy clustering is performed to derive the membership of the principal components in each of the clusters and the memberships obtained are used in regression to statistically relate MSLP and rainfall. The statistical relationship thus obtained is used to predict the rainfall from GCM output. The rainfall predicted with the GCM developed by CCSR/NIES with B2 scenario presents a decreasing trend for non-monsoon period, for the case study. Climate change impact assessment models developed based on downscaled GCM output are subjected to a range of uncertainties due to both ‘incomplete knowledge’ and ‘unknowable future scenario’ (New and Hulme, 2000). ‘Incomplete knowledge’ mainly arises from inadequate information and understanding about the underlying geophysical process of global change, leading to limitations in the accuracy of GCMs. This is also termed as GCM uncertainty. Uncertainty due to ‘unknowable future scenario’ is associated with the unpredictability in the forecast of socio-economic and human behavior resulting in future Green House Gas (GHG) emission scenarios, and can also be termed as scenario uncertainty. Downscaled outputs of a single GCM with a single climate change scenario represent a single trajectory among a number of realizations derived using various GCMs and scenarios. Such a single trajectory alone can not represent a future hydrologic scenario, and will not be useful in assessing hydrologic impacts due to climate change. Nonparametric methods are developed in the thesis to model GCM and scenario uncertainty for prediction of drought scenario with Orissa meteorological subdivision as a case study. Using the downscaling technique described in the previous paragraph, future rainfall scenarios are obtained for all available GCMs and scenarios. After correcting for bias, equiprobability transformation is used to convert the precipitation into Standardized Precipitation Index-12 (SPI-12), an annual drought indicator, based on which a drought may be classiﬁed as a severe drought, mild drought etc. Disagreements are observed between diﬀerent predictions of SPI-12, resulting from diﬀerent GCMs and scenarios. Assuming SPI-12 to be a random variable at every time step, nonparametric methods based on kernel density estimation and orthonormal series are used to determine the nonparametric probability density function (pdf) of SPI-12. Probabilities for diﬀerent categories of drought are computed from the estimated pdf. It is observed that there is an increasing trend in the probability of extreme drought and a decreasing trend in the probability of near normal conditions, in the Orissa meteorological subdivision. The single valued Cumulative Distribution Functions (CDFs) obtained from nonparametric methods suﬀer from limitations due to the following: (a) simulations for all scenarios are not available for all the GCMs, thus leading to a possibility that incorporation of these missing climate experiments may result in a diﬀerent CDF, (b) the method may simply overﬁt to a multimodal distribution from a relatively small sample of GCMs with a limited number of scenarios, and (c) the set of all scenarios may not fully compose the universal sample space, and thus, the precise single valued probability distribution may not be representative enough for applications. To overcome these limitations, an interval regression is performed to ﬁt an imprecise normal distribution to the SPI-12 to provide a band of CDFs instead of a single valued CDF. Such a band of CDFs represents the incomplete nature of knowledge, thus reﬂecting the extent of what is ignored in the climate change impact assessment. From imprecise CDFs, the imprecise probabilities of diﬀerent categories of drought are computed. These results also show an increasing trend of the bounds of the probability of extreme drought and decreasing trend of the bounds of the probability of near normal conditions, in the Orissa meteorological subdivision. Water resources planning requires the information about future streamﬂow scenarios in a river basin to combat hydrologic extremes resulting from climate change. It is therefore necessary to downscale GCM projections for streamﬂow prediction at river basin scales. A statistical downscaling model based on PCA, fuzzy clustering and Relevance Vector Machine (RVM) is developed to predict the monsoon streamﬂow of Mahanadi river at Hirakud reservoir, from GCM projections of large scale climatological data. Surface air temperature at 2m, Mean Sea Level Pressure (MSLP), geopotential height at a pressure level of 500 hecto Pascal (hPa) and surface speciﬁc humidity are considered as the predictors for modeling Mahanadi streamﬂow in monsoon season. PCA is used to reduce the dimensionality of the predictor dataset and also to convert the correlated variables to uncorrelated variables. Fuzzy clustering is carried out to derive the membership of the principal components in each of the clusters and the memberships thus obtained are used in RVM regression model. RVM involves fewer number of relevant vectors and the chance of overﬁtting is less than that of Support Vector Machine (SVM). Diﬀerent kernel functions are used for comparison purpose and it is concluded that heavy tailed Radial Basis Function (RBF) performs best for streamﬂow prediction with GCM output for the case considered. The GCM CCSR/NIES with B2 scenario projects a decreasing trend in future monsoon streamﬂow of Mahanadi which is likely to be due to high surface warming. A possibilistic approach is developed next, for modeling GCM and scenario uncertainty in projection of monsoon streamﬂow of Mahanadi river. Three GCMs, Center for Climate System Research/ National Institute for Environmental Studies (CCSR/NIES), Hadley Climate Model 3 (HadCM3) and Coupled Global Climate Model 2 (CGCM2) with two scenarios A2 and B2 are used for the purpose. Possibilities are assigned to GCMs and scenarios based on their system performance measure in predicting the streamﬂow during years 1991-2005, when signals of climate forcing are visible. The possibilities are used as weights for deriving the possibilistic mean CDF for the three standard time slices, 2020s, 2050s and 2080s. It is observed that the value of streamﬂow at which the possibilistic mean CDF reaches the value of 1 reduces with time, which shows reduction in probability of occurrence of extreme high ﬂow events in future and therefore there is likely to be a decreasing trend in the monthly peak ﬂow. One possible reason for such a decreasing trend may be the signiﬁcant increase in temperature due to climate warming. Simultaneous occurrence of reduction in Mahandai streamﬂow and increase in extreme drought in Orissa meteorological subdivision is likely to pose a challenge for water resources engineers in meeting water demands in future.
- Civil Engineering (CiE) 
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