Comparison of uncertainty sources for climate change impacts: flood frequency in England

Kay, A. L.; Davies, H. N.; Bell, V. A.; Jones, R. G. 2009 Comparison of uncertainty sources for climate change impacts: flood frequency in England. Climatic Change, 92 (1-2). 41-63.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
KayetalClimChange.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (491kB)


This paper investigates the uncertainty in the impact of climate change on flood frequency in England, through the use of continuous simulation of river flows. Six different sources of uncertainty are discussed: future greenhouse gas emissions; Global Climate Model (GCM) structure; downscaling from GCMs (including Regional Climate Model structure); hydrological model structure; hydrological model parameters and the internal variability of the climate system (sampled by applying different GCM initial conditions). These sources of uncertainty are demonstrated (separately) for two example catchments in England, by propagation through to flood frequency impact. The results suggest that uncertainty from GCM structure is by far the largest source of uncertainty. However, this is due to the extremely large increases in winter rainfall predicted by one of the five GCMs used. Other sources of uncertainty become more significant if the results from this GCM are omitted, although uncertainty from sources relating to modelling of the future climate is generally still larger than that relating to emissions or hydrological modelling. It is also shown that understanding current and future natural variability is critical in assessing the importance of climate change impacts on hydrology.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Water > WA01 Water extremes > WA01.3 Quantification of uncertainties, trends and risk of extremes
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Harding (to July 2011)
ISSN: 0165-0009
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The original publication is available at
Additional Keywords: Climate change, uncertainty, hydrological impacts, flood frequency
NORA Subject Terms: Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 13 Jan 2009 12:49 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...