Assessment of climate change impacts on water resources of the Upper Blue Nile River Basin, Ethiopia
Climate change affects water resources availability of international river basins that are vulnerable to runoff variability of upstream countries especially with increasing water demands. The upper Blue Nile River Basin is a good example because its downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt, depend solely on Nile waters for their economic development. In this study, the impacts of climate change on both hydrology and water resources operations were analyzed using the outcomes of six different general circulation models (GCMs) for the 2050s. The outcomes of these six GCMs were weighted to provide average future changes. Hydrologic sensitivity, flow statistics, a drought index, and water resources assessment indices (reliability, resiliency, and vulnerability) were used as quantitative indicators. The changes in outflows from the two proposed dams (Karadobi and Border) to downstream countries were also assessed. Given the uncertainty of different GCMs, the simulation results of the weighted scenario suggested mild increases in hydrologic variables (precipitation, temperature, potential evapotranspiration, and runoff) across the study area. The weighted scenario also showed that low-flow statistics and the reliability of streamflows are increased and severe drought events are decreased mainly due to increased precipitation. Joint dam operation performed better than single dam operation in terms of both hydropower generation and mean annual storage without affecting the runoff volume to downstream countries, but enhancing flow characteristics and the robustness of streamflows. This study provides useful information to decision makers for the planning and management of future water resources of the study area and downstream countries.