Impact of Climate Change on Streamflow Hydrology in Headwater Catchments of the Upper Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia
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This study assessed the impact of climate change on water availability and variability in two subbasins in the upper Blue Nile basin of Ethiopia. Downscaled future climate data from HadCM3 of A2 (medium-high) and B2 (medium-low) emission scenarios were compared to the observed climate data for a baseline period (1961–1990). The emission scenario representing the baseline period was used to predict future climate and as input to a hydrologic model to estimate the impact of future climate on the streamflow at three future time horizons: 2020–2045, 2045–2070 and 2070–2100. Results suggest that medium-high emission scenario best represents the local rainfall and temperature pattern. With A2 scenario, daily maximum/minimum temperature will increase throughout the future time horizons. The minimum and maximum temperature will increase by 3.6 °C and 2.4 °C, respectively, towards the end of the 21st century. Consequently, potential evapotranspiration is expected to increase by 7.8%, although trends in annual rainfall do not show statistically meaningful trends between years. A notable seasonality was found in the rainfall pattern, such that dry season rainfall amounts are likely to increase and wet season rainfall to decrease. The hydrological model indicated that the local hydrology of the study watersheds will be significantly influenced by climate change. Overall, at the end of the century, streamflow will increase in both rivers by up to 64% in dry seasons and decrease by 19% in wet seasons.