Millennium Ecosystem Assessment scenario drivers (1970–2050): Climate and hydrological alterations

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Abstract

[1] This study was carried out to support and enhance a series of global studies assessing contemporary and future changes in nutrient export from watersheds (Global Nutrient Export from Watersheds (NEWS)). Because hydrography is one of the most important drivers in nutrient transport, it was essential to establish how climatic changes and direct human activities (primarily irrigation and reservoir operations) affect the hydrological cycle. Contemporary and future hydrography was established by applying a modified version of a global water balance and transport model (WBMplus) driven by present and future climate forcing, as described in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment scenarios (1970–2050). WBMplus represents a major upgrade to previous WBM implementations by incorporating irrigational water uptake and reservoir operations in a single modeling framework. Contemporary simulations were carried out by using both observed climate forcings from the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia (CRU) data sets and from Global Circulation Model (GCM) simulations that are comparable to the future simulations from the same GCM forcings. Future trends in three key human activities (land use, irrigation, and reservoirs operation for hydropower) were taken from the Integrated Model to Assess the Global Environment (IMAGE). The reservoir operation required establishing a realistic distribution of future reservoirs since the IMAGE model provided only the hydropower potentials for the different future scenarios.

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