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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-204
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-204
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 21 May 2019

Research article | 21 May 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Future shift in winter streamflow modulated by internal variability of climate in southern Ontario

Olivier Champagne1, Altaf Arain1, Martin Leduc2, Paulin Coulibaly1,3, and Shawn McKenzie1 Olivier Champagne et al.
  • 1School of Geography and Earth Sciences and McMaster Centre for Climate Change, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Ouranos and Centre ESCER, Université du Québec á Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • 3Department of Civil Engineering, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Abstract. Fluvial systems in southern Ontario are regularly affected by widespread early-spring flood events primarily caused by rain-on-snow events. Recent studies have shown an increase in winter floods in this region due to increasing winter temperature and precipitation. Streamflow simulations are associated with uncertainties tied to the internal variability of climate. These uncertainties can be assessed using hydrological models fed by downscaled Global Climate Model Large Ensemble (GCM-LE) data. The Canadian Regional Climate Model Large Ensemble (CRCM5-LE), a dynamically downscaled version of a GCM-LE, was developed to simulate climate variability over northeastern North America under different future climate scenarios. In this study, CRCM5-LE temperature and precipitation projections under RCP 8.5 scenario were used as input in the Precipitation Runoff Modelling System (PRMS) to simulate near future (2040s) streamflow for four watersheds in southern Ontario. Model simulations show that 14 % of the ensemble project a high (low) increase of streamflow volume in January-February. Streamflow increases may be driven by rain and snowmelt modulation caused by the development of high (low) pressure anomalies in North America’s East Coast. Additionally, the streamflow may be enhanced by high pressure circulation patterns directly over the Great Lakes creating warm conditions and increasing snowmelt and rainfall/snowfall ratio (16 %). These results are important to assess the internal variability of the hydrological projections and to inform society of increased winter streamflow.

Olivier Champagne et al.
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Short summary
Using 50 members of one regional climate model and a processed-based hydrological model applied in four river basins in Southern Ontario, this work focused on the winter streamflow projections uncertainties for the first-half of 21st-century. The results show a January-February increase of streamflow for the 50 projections due to early snowmelt and rainfall increase. The streamflow projections are also modulated by the change of pressure patterns advecting different air masses over the region.
Using 50 members of one regional climate model and a processed-based hydrological model applied...
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