National-scale analysis of low flow frequency: historical trends and potential future changes

Kay, A.L.; Bell, V.A.; Guillod, B.P.; Jones, R.G.; Rudd, A.C.. 2018 National-scale analysis of low flow frequency: historical trends and potential future changes. Climatic Change, 147 (3-4). 585-599.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N518511PP.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (4MB) | Preview


The potential impact of climate change on hydrological extremes is of increasing concern across the globe. Here, a national-scale grid-based hydrological model is used to investigate historical trends and potential future changes in low flow frequency across Great Britain. The historical analyses use both observational data (1891–2015) and ensemble data from a regional climate model (1900–2006). The results show relatively few significant trends in historical low flows (2- or 20-year return period), whether based on 7- or 30-day annual minima. Significant negative trends seen in some limited parts of the country when using observational data are generally not seen when using climate model data. The future analyses use climate model ensemble data for both near future and far future time periods (2020–2049 and 2070–2099 respectively), which are compared to a baseline sub-period from the historical ensemble (1975–2004). The results show future reductions in low flows, which are generally larger in the south of the country, at the higher (20-year) return period, and for the later time period. Reductions are more limited if the estimates of future potential evaporation include the effect of increased carbon dioxide concentrations on stomatal resistance. Such reductions in river flow could have significant impacts on the aquatic environment and on agriculture, and present a challenge for water managers, especially as reductions in water supply are likely to occur alongside increases in demand.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0165-0009
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Publisher link (see Related URLs) provides a full-text, view-only copy of the final paper.
Additional Keywords: drought, low flows, river flow, hydrology, Great Britain
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Meteorology and Climatology
Related URLs:
Date made live: 01 Feb 2018 10:57 +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...