Assessment of the Impact of Climate Change on Stream Flow: The Case of Little Ruaha Catchment, Rufiji Basin, Tanzania
Little Ruaha catchment has been recognized for its potential to support multi-projects including irrigated schemes, urban water supply and providing significant inflow to Mtera reservoir for hydropower generation and ultimately Julius Nyerere Hydropower Plant (JNHPP). Despite the potential, the catchment has experienced declining flows in the recent years. This study assessed the likely changes in streamflow due to future climate change in the Little Ruaha catchment for the period 2025-2060. General Circulation Model (GCM) datasets from ACCESS1.0, CNRM-CM5 and BCC-CSM1 models and RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 greenhouse gas concentration scenarios were selected as the representative scenarios. Impact of climate change on stream flows was assessed using the calibrated NAM hydrological model. The impact assessment results show that under the climate change scenario (2025–2060), the monthly maximum and minimum temperatures will increase in the range of 0.8 °C to 2 °C for both RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. For the case of rainfall, average annual rainfall is expected to increase by about 10% compared to the baseline. However, the inter-annual variability of rainfall for the period between 2025 and 2060 shows the decreasing trend for RCP 8.5. The simulation results show that streamflow will decrease by about 30% and 6% for RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, respectively.
Keywords: Hydrological modelling; climate change scenarios; hydrological impacts; Little Ruaha.
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