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When and where might climate change be detectable in UK river flows?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
  • Robert Wilby
  • T. M. L. Wigley
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>14/10/2006
<mark>Journal</mark>Geophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
Volume33
Pages (from-to)L19407
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The Mann-Kendall statistic is used to investigate trends in homogeneous rainfall and river flow records since the 1860s for 15 basins in the UK. The relationship between the strength of trend and detection time is then explored for seasonal and annual flows. Here it is shown that, under widely assumed climate change scenarios, expected trends in UK summer river flows will seldom be detectable within typical planning horizons (the 2020s). Even where climate driven changes may already be underway, losses in deployable resources will have to be factored into long-term water plans long before they are statistically detectable. Rather than an excuse for inaction, such insights should inform more sophisticated approaches to environmental monitoring, climate change detection and adaptation.

Bibliographic note

This paper reveals that under the UKCIP02 climate change scenarios, expected trends in summer low flows will seldom be detectable within the 2020s planning horizon used by UK water utilities. Rather than excuse for inaction, this finding points to more sophisticated approaches for monitoring and communicating climate change impacts. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences