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Future changes of the terrestrial water budget over twenty major European river catchments from CORDEX regional climate model projections
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  • Mohamed Eltahan,
  • Klaus Goergen,
  • Stefan Kollet,
  • Clemens Simmer
Mohamed Eltahan
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Klaus Goergen
Forschungszentrum Jülich
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Stefan Kollet
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
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Clemens Simmer
Division of Meteorology
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Climate change may cause profound changes in the regional water cycle causing negative impacts in many sectors, such as agriculture or water resources. In this study, projected changes of the terrestrial water cycle are investigated based on the simulations from 47 regional climate model ensemble members of the COordinated Regional Downscaling EXperiment (CORDEX) project’s EURO-CORDEX initiative, which downscale different global climate models of the CMIP5 experiment over a 12km resolution pan-European model domain. We analyze climate change impacts on the terrestrial water budget through changes in the long-term annual and seasonal cycles of precipitation, evapotranspiration, and runoff over 20 major European river catchments (Guadalquivir, Guadiana, Tagus, Douro, Ebro, Garonne, Rhone, Po, Seine, Rhine, Loire, Maas, Weser, Elbe, Oder, Vistuala, Danube, Dniester, Dnieper, and Neman) for near (2021-2050) and far future (2070-2099) time spans with reference to a historical period (1971-2000) for three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5. The analysis shows substantial differences between the projected changes in precipitation, evapotranspiration, and runoff for the twenty European catchments. For the near future RCP8.5 scenario, the long-term average of the annual sum precipitation increases over most of Europe by up to 10% in the ensemble mean over central European catchments; but also decreases up to 10 % are found, e.g. over the Iberian Peninsula. For the far future, the long-term average ensemble means of the annual precipitation sum increases from 30% for eastern, 15% for central to 7% for western European catchments, and further decreases up to 25% over the Iberian Peninsula, which will likely cause water stress situations. These first order changes in precipitation lead to ensuing changes in evapotranspiration and runoff, that cause altered hydrological regimes and feedback processes in the water cycle in the catchments.