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Climatic Implications of United Kingdom Streamflow Histories

Hannaford, J. and Buys, G. 2012. Trends in seasonal river flow regimes in the UK. Journal of Hydrology 475: 158-174.
In the words of Hannaford and Buys (2012), "whilst the evidence for climate change impacts related to increasing temperatures is generally held to be unequivocal ... the evidence for climatic-driven trends in river flow regimes is far less compelling, as reflected in the lack of clear signals in historical observations and a lack of consensus in future projections made by climate models," citing the work of Svensson et al. (2006) and Wilby et al. (2008).

Hannaford and Buys further explore this issue, as they describe it, "by analyzing trends over the 1969-2008 period in a network of 89 catchments from across the UK," which they did in a study that "primarily focuses on catchments with near-natural flow regimes," so that climate-driven trends could be "distinguished from direct anthropogenic disturbances such as river regulation and abstractions."

Based on their analysis, the two UK researchers report that some of their findings "resonate" with observed rainfall changes and potential future climate change. However, they say that "the lack of any obvious tendency towards decreasing river flows (for summer and for low flows especially) is in apparent contrast to expectations for the relatively near future under climate change scenarios." In conclusion, Hannaford and Buys state that "given the observed exceptional increase in UK temperature, the lack of decreasing river flows may reflect some degree of resilience to anthropogenic warming [italics added]."

Additional References
Svensson, C., Hannaford, J., Kundzewicz, Z.W. and Marsh, T. 2006. Trends in river floods: why is there no clear signal in observations? In: IAHS Publication 305, Frontiers in Flood Research (Proceedings of Kovacs Colloquium, Paris, France, June 2006). IAHS Press, Wallingford, UK.

Wilby, R.L., Beven, K.J. and Reynard, N.S. 2008. Climate change and fluvial flood risk in the UK: more of the same? Hydrological Processes 22: 2511-2523.

Archived 17 July 2013