Assessing potential climate change impacts on the seasonality of runoff in an Alpine watershed

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The aim of this study is to investigate potential impacts of climate change on the seasonality of runoff in a mountainous watershed, located in the Austrian Alps. In order to consider the full range of possible climate variation, hypothetical climate change scenarios were used to force a hydrological model to simulate runoff time series for potential future climate conditions. The variation of runoff seasonality is illustrated with a three-dimensional representation of daily discharge data, directional statistics of annual flood peaks and the analysis of seasonal occurrence of runoff peaks. The results show that changes in temperature and precipitation patterns could have considerable effects on seasonal runoff variability in the investigated watershed. Generally, a possible increase in temperature may cause an increase in seasonal variability of runoff. Further, annual flood peaks are projected to occur throughout the entire year in the investigated Alpine watershed, whereas moderate high flows may increase in winter (December–February).

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