Application of a distributed catchment model to investigate hydrological impacts of climate change within Poyang Lake catchment (China)
The extreme cycles of flood and drought in the Poyang Lake catchment (China) place immense pressure on the region's water users and ecosystems. This study examines potential impacts of future climate change in the Poyang Lake catchment using the popular regional climate model, COSMO-CLM, and a distributed hydrological model, WATLAC. Near-future projections (2016–2035) indicate that the mean annual precipitation and temperature are expected to increase over the catchment, with the exception of some northern regions. Relative to the baseline period (1986–2005), the monthly mean precipitation is projected to increase in spring, summer and autumn (March-October), and to decrease in winter (November-February), with the most significant changes in September (62%) and January (−39%). Projected increases in monthly mean temperatures range from 0.3 to 1.4 °C, 0.2 to 0.7 °C, and 0.2 to 1.2 °C for Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) climate scenarios RCP2.6, 4.5 and 8.5, respectively. Winter temperatures are expected to increase significantly regardless of the climate scenarios. WATLAC simulations indicate that future climate changes will lead to increased high flows in summer and reduced low flows in winter, in terms of both frequency and magnitude, suggesting a high likelihood of an increase in frequency and severity of flooding and droughts in the Poyang Lake catchment.