Within the next few decades, changes in global temperature and precipitation patterns may appear, especially at high latitudes. A simple monthly water-balance model of the NOPEX basins was developed and used for the purposes of investigating the effects on water availability of changes in climate. Eleven case study catchments were used together with a number of climate change scenarios. The effects of climate change on average annual runoff depended on the ratio of average annual runoff to average annual precipitation, with the greatest sensitivity in the catchments with lowest runoff coefficients. A 20% increase in annual precipitation resulted in an increase in annual runoff ranging from 31% to 51%. The greatest changes in monthly runoff were in winter (from December to March) whereas the smallest changes were found in summer. The time of the highest spring flow changed from April to March. An increase in temperature by 4°C greatly shortened the time of snow cover and the snow accumulation period. The maximum amount of snow during these short winters diminished by 50% for the NOPEX area even with an assumed increase of total precipitation by 20%.
- Received October 15, 1996.
- Revision received April 10, 1997.
- Accepted April 16, 1997.
- © IWA Publishing 1997