Comparative assessment of the effect of climate change and human activities on streamflow regimes in central rift valley basin, Ethiopia
Mutua, Benedict M.
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Climate change and anthropogenic activities are the main driving factors for changes in hydrological processes of a given watershed. This research was conducted to assess the relative contribution of climate change and human activities to streamflow change. The ensemble mean of five regional climate models (RCMs) in the coordinated regional climate downscaling experiment (CORDEX)-Africa was considered for the purpose of this study. Two emission scenarios, the Representative Concentration Pathways, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, were considered for the future scenario period (2041–2070). Streamflow change due to climate change and human activities was assessed using coefficient of elasticity method and SWAT hydrological model. A change due to climate change was further split into change due to precipitation and evapotranspiration. Climate change contributed 46.7% while human activities contributed 53.3% to changes in streamflow. It was found that a 10% decrease in precipitation caused a reduction of 25.1% in streamflow, while 10% increase in potential evapotranspiration caused a reduction of 15.5% in streamflow. The results from ensemble mean of Regional Climate Models (RCMs) show that the average projected precipitation will decrease by 7.97% and 2.55% under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively. On average, temperature will increase by 1.9°C and 2.7°C under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively. This corresponds to 4.89% and 6.59% increase in potential evapotranspiration under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively. Using coefficient of elasticity method, the estimated values of streamflow change were – 26.9% and – 15.8% under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively. The results of this study show that the reduction in streamflow due to human activities was higher than the reduction due to climate change. The streamflow change induced by anthropogenic factors can be associated with factors such as water abstraction, land use change, ground water abstraction, and the other catchment properties. Hence, further research is recommended to separate changes from these factors.
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