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Synthetic Scenarios from CMIP5 Model Simulations for Climate Change Impact Assessments in Managed Ecosystems and Water Resources: Case Study in South Asian Countries

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 59(6): 1715-1731. (doi: 10.13031/trans.59.11585) @2016
Authors:   A. Anandhi, N. Omani, I. Chaubey, R. Horton, D. A. Bader, R. S. Nanjundiah
Keywords:   Adaptation, Agriculture, Agro-ecosystems, Climate change, Mitigation, Urban ecosystems, Water supply.

Abstract. Increasing population, urbanization, and associated demand for food production compounded by climate change and variability have important implications for the managed ecosystems and water resources of a region. This is particularly true for south Asia, which supports one quarter of the global population, half of whom live below the poverty line. This region is largely dependent on monsoon precipitation for water. Given the limited resources of the developing countries in this region, the objective of our study was to empirically explore climate change in south Asia up to the year 2099 using monthly simulations from 35 global climate models (GCMs) participating in the fifth phase of the Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for two future emission scenarios (representative concentration pathways RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) and provide a wide range of potential climate change outcomes. This was carried out using a three-step procedure: calculating the mean annual, monsoon, and non-monsoon precipitation and temperatures; estimating the percent change from historical conditions; and developing scenario funnels and synthetic scenarios. This methodology was applied for the entire south Asia region; however, the percent change information generated at 1.5° grid scale can be used to generate scenarios at finer spatial scales. Our results showed a high variability in the future change in precipitation (-23% to 52%, maximum in the non-monsoon season) and temperature (0.8% to 2.1%) in the region. Temperatures in the region consistently increased, especially in the Himalayan region, which could have impacts including a faster retreat of glaciers and increased floods. It could also change rivers from perennial to seasonal, leading to significant challenges in water management. Increasing temperatures could further stress groundwater reservoirs, leading to withdrawal rates that become even more unsustainable. The high precipitation variability (with higher propensity for localized intense rainfall events) observed in the region can be a key factor for managed ecosystems and water management and could also lead to more incidence of severe urban flooding. The results could be used to assess both mitigation and adaptation alternatives to reduce vulnerabilities in managed ecosystems (agricultural and urban) and water resources.

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