• climate change;
  • general circulation models;
  • statistical downscaling;
  • hydrological models;
  • hydrological impacts


This paper presents the results of an investigation into the problems associated with using downscaled meteorological data for hydrological simulations of climate scenarios. The influence of both the hydrological models and the meteorological inputs driving these models on climate scenario simulation studies are investigated. A regression-based statistical tool (SDSM) is used to downscale the daily precipitation and temperature data based on climate predictors derived from the Canadian global climate model (CGCM1), and two types of hydrological model, namely the physically based watershed model WatFlood and the lumped-conceptual modelling system HBV-96, are used to simulate the flow regimes in the major rivers of the Saguenay watershed in Quebec. The models are validated with meteorological inputs from both the historical records and the statistically downscaled outputs. Although the two hydrological models demonstrated satisfactory performances in simulating stream flows in most of the rivers when provided with historic precipitation and temperature records, both performed less well and responded differently when provided with downscaled precipitation and temperature data. By demonstrating the problems in accurately simulating river flows based on downscaled data for the current climate, we discuss the difficulties associated with downscaling and hydrological models used in estimating the possible hydrological impact of climate change scenarios. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.