Understanding the Impact of Precipitation Bias-Correction and Statistical Downscaling Methods on Projected Changes in Flood Extremes

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Journal Article

Abstract This study evaluates five bias correction and statistical downscaling (BCSD) techniques for daily precipitation and examines their impacts on the projected changes in flood extremes (i.e., 1%, 0.5%, and 0.2% floods). We use climate model outputs from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) to conduct hydrologic simulations across watersheds in Iowa and determine historical and future flood extreme estimates based on generalized extreme value distribution fitting. Projected changes in these extremes are examined with respect to four Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) alongside five BCSD techniques. We find the magnitude of the estimates of future annual exceedance probabilities (AEPs) are expected to increase under all SSPs, especially for the emission scenarios with higher greenhouse gases concentrations (i.e., SSP370 and SSP585). Our results also suggest the choice of BCSD impacts the magnitude of the projected changes, with the SSPs that play a more limited role compared to the choice of downscaling method. The variability in projected flood changes across Iowa is similar across the downscaling technique but increases as the AEP increases. Our findings provide insights into the impact of downscaling techniques on flood extremes projections and useful information for climate planning across the state.

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