Investigating historical and future precipitation trends in regions important for hydropower production
Over the last few decades, more and more parts of the society have experienced climate change impacts, and there is a growing concern for future climate change. A main focus has been given to temperature increases and changes to the hydrological cycle. While the range in future projected temperature changes is large, uncertainties in future regional changes in precipitation and its extremes are much larger. Growing scientific knowledge shows that extremes related to hydrological changes can be substantial.
For Statkraft, a leading company in hydropower internationally, preparation for the future in terms of understanding changes to the hydrological cycle and its uncertainty is crucial. In the HYPRE project, the strong team of researchers will utilize a range of observational and global and regional model data to gain a more robust understanding of precipitation changes in selected regions. Through continuous interaction with the industry partner, main outcomes of the project will be useful for Statkraft in investment decisions, but also to prepare existing hydropower plants and their infrastructure for climate change. This project will build on already established collaboration.
The Eastern Mediterranean and several parts of South America will be studied specifically in HYPRE. In South America, recent projections of future precipitation show strong regional patterns and relatively large inter-model differences. HYPRE seeks to increase knowledge on these differences for this region where precipitation is strongly affected by factors such as the Andes Mountains, El Niño Southern Oscillation, and possibly by aerosol emissions. In southern Europe, where precipitation has already declined and further decreases are projected for the future, a main focus will be changes in drought. For all regions, projections of changes in extreme precipitation, seasonality of precipitation, and duration of drought periods will be of high importance and a novel part of the project.