CMIP5 and CMIP6 Model Projection Comparison for Hydrological Impacts Over North America

Martel, J.-L. ; Brissette, F. ; Troin, M. ; Arsenault, R. ; Chen, J. ; Su, T. ; Lucas-Picher, Philippe

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<p align=justify>A warmer climate impacts streamflows and these changes need to be quantified to assess future risk, vulnerability, and to implement efficient adaptation measures. The climate simulations from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), which have been the basis of most such assessments over the past decade, are being gradually superseded by the more recent Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6). Our study portrays the added value of the CMIP6 ensemble over CMIP5 in a first North America wide comparison using 3,107 catchments. Results show a reduced spread of the CMIP6 ensemble compared to the CMIP5 ensemble for temperature and precipitation projections. In terms of flow indicators, the CMIP6 driven hydrological projections result in a smaller spread of future mean and high flow values, except for mountainous areas. Overall, we assess that the CMIP6 ensemble provides a narrower band of uncertainty of future climate projections, bringing more confidence for hydrological impact studies.</p>
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