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Climate Change, Climate Change Scenarios, Geographic Information Systems, Global Circulation Models, Hydrologic Modeling, Upper Suriname river basin


The goal of this paper is to assess the impact of future climate change on the hydrological regime of the tropical Upper Suriname river basin (7,860 km2) located in Suriname. GCM based climate scenarios from the MAGICC/SCENGEN model and 14 hypothetical climate scenarios are used to examine potential changes in water balance components in the study area. A physically-based distributed hydrological model, WetSpa, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used to simulate the historical and future hydrological conditions. The evaluation results indicate that the model has a relatively high confidence (model bias C1 is 0.046 and the model determinant coefficient C2 is 0.833) and can give a fair representation of the river flow hydrographs at daily scale (Nash Sutcliffe coefficient C3 is 0.622). The results indicate that an obvious increase in the annual temperature (1.8o C and 3.2o C by 2050 and 2080 respectively) in the study area is accompanied with a clear tendency in reduced precipitation during January-March and August-December, and an increased tendency during April-July. The sensitivity analyses of water balance components under temperature and precipitation change (GCM scenarios for 2050, 2080) shows that by 2080, the annual river discharge will drop 35%. The hypothetical climate scenarios (T+2oC, T+4oC and P+10%, +30%, +50%) however indicate that the annual river discharge will increase with maximum 75% for the scenario T+2oC P+50% and will decrease with maximum 87.5% for the scenario T+2o C P-50%. The results are indications of potential impacts of climate change on water resources in the Upper Suriname river basin, but true predictive skills require a significant improvement in the ability of global climate models to predictive changes in regional climate variability. The WetSpa model has proven to be useful for hydrological modeling studies where availability of physical catchment characteristics and hydroclimatic data is scarce.