Projected changes in annual maximum discharge for Iowa communities

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Journal Article
Understanding the projected changes in annual maximum peak discharge is important to improve resiliency in water resource planning and design at the community level. Currently, much of the literature on climate change impacts focuses on analyses at the regional scale. In this study we use a hydrologic model to evaluate the projected changes in annual maximum peak discharge at the community-level across Iowa under two emission scenarios, Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 and 8.5 (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). We utilize climate forcings from global climate models part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Projected Phase 5 (CMIP5) from 1950 to 2100. Our simulations show a detectable increase in annual maximum discharge for 27% of Iowa’s communities under RCP8.5. However, under RCP4.5 none of the communities are projected to face an increase in annual maximum discharge by the end of the 21st century; furthermore, precipitation intensity under this scenario is not projected to increase in the latter half of the 21st century. Our results point to a larger increase in precipitation intensity and annual maximum discharge under RCP8.5 compared to RCP4.5, especially in the second half of this century. The projected flood peak distributions tend to become statistically different from the historical ones later in the 21st century under RCP8.5 than under RCP4.5. This study provides a basis for analyzing climate change impacts at a local decision-making scale.
Journal of Hydrology
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