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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Higher temperatures influence both evaporation and snow processes. These two processes have a large effect on discharge, but have distinct roles during different seasons. In this study, we study how higher temperatures affect the discharge via changed evaporation and snow dynamics. Higher temperatures lead to enhanced evaporation but increased melt from glaciers, overall lowering the discharge. During the snow melt season, discharge was reduced further due to the earlier depletion of snow.
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-73
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-73

  13 Oct 2020

13 Oct 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Seasonal discharge response to temperature-driven changes in evaporation and snow processes

Joost Buitink, Lieke A. Melsen, and Adriaan J. Teuling Joost Buitink et al.
  • Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands

Abstract. This study analyses how temperature-driven changes in evaporation and snow processes influence the discharge in large river basins. Using a distributed efficient hydrological model at high spatio-temporal resolution, we investigate the relative contribution of snow and evaporation. Comparing two 10-year periods (1980s and 2010s) in the Rhine allowed to determine the contribution of changes in snow, evaporation and precipitation to the discharge. Around half of the observed changes could be explained by the changes induced by snow (11 %), evaporation (19 %) and precipitation (18 %), while 52 % was driven by a combination of these variables. Increased temperature scenarios show that seasonal changes in snow-dynamics could offset a fairly constant negative change in relative runoff induced by evaporation, but not during the melt season. This study shows how the combined effect of temperature-driven changes affect discharge. With many basins around the world depending on meltwater, correct understanding of these changes is vital.

Joost Buitink et al.

 
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Joost Buitink et al.

Joost Buitink et al.

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Short summary
Higher temperatures influence both evaporation and snow processes. These two processes have a large effect on discharge, but have distinct roles during different seasons. In this study, we study how higher temperatures affect the discharge via changed evaporation and snow dynamics. Higher temperatures lead to enhanced evaporation but increased melt from glaciers, overall lowering the discharge. During the snow melt season, discharge was reduced further due to the earlier depletion of snow.
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