Effect of a high-end CO2-emission scenario on hydrology

Ida B. Karlsson, Torben O. Sonnenborg, Lauren P. Seaby, Karsten H. Jensen, Jens Christian Refsgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


In the latest IPCC report, worst case scenarios of climate change describe average global surface warming of up to 6°C from pre-industrial times by the year 2100. This study highlights the influence of a high-end 6 degree climate change on the hydrology of a catchment in central Denmark. A simulation from the global climate model, EC-Earth, is downscaled using the regional climate model HIRHAM5. A simple bias correction is applied for daily reference evapotranspiration and temperature, while distribution-based scaling is used for daily precipitation data. Both the 6 degree emission scenario and the less extreme RCP4.5 emission scenario are evaluated for the future period 2071-2099. The downscaled climate variables are applied to a fully distributed, physically based, coupled surface-subsurface hydrological model based on the MIKE SHE model code. The impacts on soil moisture dynamics and evapotranspiration show increasing drying-out tendencies for the future, most pronounced in the 6 degree scenario. Stream discharge and groundwater levels also show increased drying due to higher evapotranspiration. By comparing the 6 degree scenario with other emission scenarios, it is found that the most prominent changes in the water balance are caused by drying out of soils rather than precipitation effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-54
Number of pages16
JournalClimate Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Climate change
  • High-end scenarios
  • Hydrological modelling
  • Impact study
  • DK-model

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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