Impacts of future climate change on river discharge based on hydrological inference: A case study of the Grand River Watershed in Ontario, Canada Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Over the recent years, climate change impacts have been increasingly studied at the watershed scale. However, the impact assessment is strongly dependent upon the performance of the climatic and hydrological models. This study developed a two-step method to assess climate change impacts on water resources based on the Providing Regional Climates for Impacts Studies (PRECIS) modeling system and a Hydrological Inference Model (HIM). PRECIS runs provided future temperature and precipitation projections for the watershed under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change SRES A2 and B2 emission scenarios. The HIM based on stepwise cluster analysis is developed to imitate the complex nonlinear relationships between climate input variables and targeted hydrological variables. Its robust mathematical structure and flexibility in predictor selection makes it a desirable tool for fully utilizing various climate modeling outputs. Although PRECIS and HIM cannot fully cover the uncertainties in hydro-climate modeling, they could provide efficient decision support for investigating the impacts of climate change on water resources. The proposed method is applied to the Grand River Watershed in Ontario, Canada. The model performance is demonstrated with comparison to observation data from the watershed during the period 1972-2006. Future river discharge intervals that accommodate uncertainties in hydro-climatic modeling are presented and future river discharge variations are analyzed. The results indicate that even though the total annual precipitation would not change significantly in the future, the inter-annual distribution is very likely to be altered. The water availability is expected to increase in Winter while it is very likely to decrease in Summer over the Grand River Watershed, and adaptation strategies would be necessary.


  • Li, Zhong
  • Huang, Guohe
  • Wang, Xiuquan
  • Han, Jingcheng
  • Fan, Yurui

publication date

  • April 2016