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Robust adaptation assessment – climate change and water supply

Julia Hall (Irish Climate and Research Units (ICARUS), Geography Department, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Maynooth, Ireland)
Conor Murphy (Irish Climate and Research Units (ICARUS), Geography Department, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Maynooth, Ireland)

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management

ISSN: 1756-8692

Article publication date: 2 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to develop a framework to assist the identification of robust adaptation options that account for uncertainty in future climate change impacts for the water sector.

Design/methodology/approach

The water evaluation and planning (WEAP) tool, is to identify future water resource vulnerability in the Glore sub‐catchment within the Moy catchment in the West of Ireland. Where water stress is evident, a detailed hydrological modelling approach is developed to enable an assessment of the robustness to uncertainty of future adaptation decisions. WEAP is coupled with a rainfall runoff model (hydrological simulation model), and forced using climate scenarios, statistically downscaled from three global climate models to account for the key sources of uncertainty. While hydrological models are widely applied, they are subject to uncertainties derived from model structure and the parameterisation of the catchment. Here, random sampling of key parameters is employed to incorporate uncertainty from the hydrological modelling process. Behavioural parameter sets are used to generate multiple future streamflow series to determine where the bounds within future hydrological regimes may lie and the ranges within which future adaptation policy pathways need to function.

Findings

This framework allows the identification of adaptation options that are robust to uncertainty in future simulations.

Research limitations/implications

Future research will focus on the development of more site‐specific adaptation options including soft and hard adaptation strategies. This approach will be applied to multiple water resource regions within Ireland.

Originality/value

A robust adaptation assessment decreases the risk of expensive and/or mal‐adaptations in a critical sector for society, the economy and the aquatic environment.

Keywords

Citation

Hall, J. and Murphy, C. (2011), "Robust adaptation assessment – climate change and water supply", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 302-319. https://doi.org/10.1108/17568691111153438

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited