Evaluating the effect of climate change on areal reduction factors using regional climate model projections.

Li, J., A. Sharma, F. Johnson and J. Evans
Journal of Hydrology, 528, 419-434, doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.06.067, 2015.


Areal reduction factors (ARFs) are commonly used to transform point design rainfall to represent the average design rainfall for a catchment area. While there has been considerable attention paid in the research and engineering communities to the likely changes in rainfall intensity in future climates, the issue of changes to design areal rainfall has been largely ignored. This paper investigates the impact of climate change on ARFs. A new methodology for estimating changes in ARFs is presented. This method is used to assess changes in ARFs in the greater Sydney region using a high-resolution regional climate model (RCM). ARFs under present (1990–2009) and future (2040–2059) climate conditions were derived and compared for annual exceedance probabilities (AEPs) from 50% to 5% for durations ranging from 1 h to 120 h. The analysis shows two main trends in the future changes in ARFs. For the shortest duration events (1-h) the ARFs are found to increase which implies that these events will tend to have a larger spa- tial structure in the future than the current climate. In contrast, storms with durations between 6 and 72 h are likely to have decreased ARFs in the future, suggesting a more restricted spatial coverage of storms under a warming climate. The extent of the decrease varies with event frequency and catchment size. The largest decreases are found for large catchments and rare events. Although the results here are based on a single RCM and need to be confirmed in future work with multiple models, the framework that is proposed will be useful for future studies considering changes in the areal extent of rainfall extremes.

Key Figure

Fig. 8. ARFs estimated from WRF/MK3.5 simulations for the current climate (1990–2009, solid curves) and future climate (2040–2059, dashed curves) for storms with AEP from 50% to 5% for storm duration of (a) 1 h, (c) 24 h and (e) 72 h. The ratio of ARFs for the future climate to the current climate is shown in (b) 1 h, (d) 24 h and (f) 72 h. The filled circle indicates where the change of ARFs is significant at 5% level detected by Wilcoxon–Mann–Whitney test.

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