Impacts of climate change on varied river-flow regimes of Southern India

Mudbhatkal, A., Raikar, R. V., Venkatesh, B. and Mahesha, A. (2017) Impacts of climate change on varied river-flow regimes of Southern India. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 22 (9). 05017017-1-05017017-13. ISSN 1084-0699


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This paper assesses the possible impact of climate change on the hydrology of the subhumid and perhumid river regimes originating from the western mountain range (Western Ghats) of India. The modified Mann-Kendall test evaluates the trend of observed data (1975–2004) and RCP 4.5 data (2006–2070) of climatic variables. The results indicate a decreasing trend for annual rainfall over the Malaprabha River catchment (26 mm per year at the 5% significance level), whereas no trend is observed over the Netravathi River catchment at the 10% level. Indian southwestern monsoon rainfall shows a decreasing trend from 84 to 80% of total rainfall in the Malaprabha River catchment and from 80 to 77% in the Netravathi River catchment. Summer rains are found to be increasing in the Malaprabha River catchment (3–4.5% of total rainfall), whereas there is no significant trend for the Netravathi River catchment. Furthermore, the postmonsoon rainfall also shows a significant increase in the Malaprabha catchment (40 mm per decade at the 5% significance level) and the Netravathi catchment (30 mm per decade at the 10% significance level). The Netravathi River shows a decreasing trend for annual flow (0.22  Mm30.22  Mm3 per year at the 10% significance level). However, for both catchments the temperature is found to be increasing by 0.2–0.8°C per decade. The soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) model is used to simulate the river catchments and exhibits a Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency of 0.831 and 0.857 for the Malaprabha and Netravathi River catchments, respectively. In addition, a decreasing trend in the high flow is estimated for Netravathi, whereas the trend is increasing for Malaprabha. Thus the impacts of climate change over the Western Ghats are very evident, but the flow of each river responds differently.

Keywords:Climate change, Malaprabha River, Mann–Kendall, Netravathi River, Representative concentration pathways (RCP), Sen’s slope, Soil and water assessment tool (SWAT), Trend analysis
Subjects:H Engineering > H220 Environmental Engineering
H Engineering > H200 Civil Engineering
F Physical Sciences > F891 Geographical Information Systems
F Physical Sciences > F860 Climatology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
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ID Code:29455
Deposited On:10 Nov 2017 11:51

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