16 Feb 2023
 | 16 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Technical note: Statistical generation of climate-perturbed flow duration curves

Veysel Yildiz, Robert Milton, Solomon Brown, and Charles Rougé

Abstract. Assessing the robustness of a water resource system's performance under climate change involves exploring a wide range of streamflow conditions. This is often achieved through rainfall-runoff models, but these are commonly validated under historical conditions with no guarantee that calibrated parameters would still be valid in a different climate. In this note, we introduce the first statistical generation method to produce a range of plausible streamflow futures that are coherent across the full range of hydrological conditions. It relies on a three-parameter analytical representation the flow duration curve (FDC) that has been proved to perform well across a range of basins of different climate. We rigorously prove that for common sets of streamflow statistics mirroring average behavior, variability, and low flows, the parameterisation of the FDC under this representation is unique. We also show that conditions on these statistics for a solution to exist are commonly met in practice. These analytical results imply that streamflow futures can be explored by sampling wide ranges of three key flow statistics, and by deriving the corresponding FDC to model basin response across the full spectrum of flow conditions. We illustrate this method by exploring in which hydro-climatic futures a proposed run-of-river hydropower plant in eastern Turkey is financially viable. Results show that contrary to approaches that modify streamflow statistics using multipliers applied uniformly throughout a time series, our approach seamlessly represents a large range of futures with increased frequencies of both high and low flows. This matches expected impacts of climate change in the region, and supports analyses of the financial robustness of the proposed infrastructure to climate change. We conclude by highlighting how refinements to the approach could further support rigorous explorations of hydro-climatic futures without the help of rainfall-runoff models.

Veysel Yildiz et al.

Status: open (until 02 May 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1468', Anonymous Referee #1, 23 Mar 2023 reply

Veysel Yildiz et al.


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Short summary
The proposed approach is based on the parameterisation of FDCs to generate hypothetical streamflow futures; (1) We sample a broad range of future climates with modified values of three key streamflow statistics, (2) we generate a FDC for each hydro-climate future; (3) the resulting ensemble is ready to support robustness assessments in a changing climate. Results show that our approach seamlessly represents a large range of futures with increased frequencies of both high and low flows.