Paulin Coulibaly


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Understanding Uncertainty in Probabilistic Floodplain Mapping in the Time of Climate Change
Zahra Zahmatkesh, Shasha Han, Paulin Coulibaly
Water, Volume 13, Issue 9

An integrated framework was employed to develop probabilistic floodplain maps, taking into account hydrologic and hydraulic uncertainties under climate change impacts. To develop the maps, several scenarios representing the individual and compounding effects of the models’ input and parameters uncertainty were defined. Hydrologic model calibration and validation were performed using a Dynamically Dimensioned Search algorithm. A generalized likelihood uncertainty estimation method was used for quantifying uncertainty. To draw on the potential benefits of the proposed methodology, a flash-flood-prone urban watershed in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada, was selected. The developed floodplain maps were updated considering climate change impacts on the input uncertainty with rainfall Intensity–Duration–Frequency (IDF) projections of RCP8.5. The results indicated that the hydrologic model input poses the most uncertainty to floodplain delineation. Incorporating climate change impacts resulted in the expansion of the potential flood area and an increase in water depth. Comparison between stationary and non-stationary IDFs showed that the flood probability is higher when a non-stationary approach is used. The large inevitable uncertainty associated with floodplain mapping and increased future flood risk under climate change imply a great need for enhanced flood modeling techniques and tools. The probabilistic floodplain maps are beneficial for implementing risk management strategies and land-use planning.


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Revisiting flood peak distributions: A pan-Canadian investigation
Mohanad Zaghloul, Simon Michael Papalexiou, Amin Elshorbagy, Paulin Coulibaly
Advances in Water Resources, Volume 145

• Analysis shows the G E V distribution might not be the best choice for flood frequency analysis. • Burr type III and XII are consistent and robust models to describe annual flood peaks. • Pan-Canadian investigation of annual streamflow peaks. Safe and cost-effective design of infrastructures, such as dams, bridges, highways, often requires knowing the magnitude and frequency of peak floods. The Generalized Extreme Value distribution ( G E V ) prevailed in flood frequency analysis along with distributions comprising location, scale, and shape parameters. Here we explore alternative models and propose power-type models, having one scale and two shape parameters. The Burr type III ( Ɓr III) and XII ( Ɓ rXII) distributions are compared against the G E V in 1088 streamflow records of annual peaks across Canada. A generic L-moment algorithm is devised to fit the distributions, also applicable to distributions without analytical L-moment expressions. The analysis shows: (1) the models perform equally well when describing the observed annual peaks; (2) the right tail appears heavier in the Ɓr III and Ɓr XII models leading to larger streamflow predictions when compared to those of G E V ; (3) the G E V predicts upper streamflow limits in 39.1% of the records—these limits have realistic exceedance probabilities based on the other two models; (4) the tail heaviness estimation seems not robust in the G E V case when compared to the Ɓr III and Ɓr XII models and this could challenge G E V ’s reliability in predicting streamflow at large return periods; and, (5) regional variation is observed in the behaviour of flood peaks across different climatic regions of Canada. The findings of this study reveal potential limitations in using the G E V for flood frequency analysis and suggest the Ɓr III and Ɓr XII as consistent alternatives worth exploring.

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Winter hydrometeorological extreme events modulated by large-scale atmospheric circulation in southern Ontario
Olivier Champagne, Martin Leduc, Paulin Coulibaly, M. Altaf Arain
Earth System Dynamics, Volume 11, Issue 1

Abstract. Extreme events are widely studied across the world because of their major implications for many aspects of society and especially floods. These events are generally studied in terms of precipitation or temperature extreme indices that are often not adapted for regions affected by floods caused by snowmelt. The rain on snow index has been widely used, but it neglects rain-only events which are expected to be more frequent in the future. In this study, we identified a new winter compound index and assessed how large-scale atmospheric circulation controls the past and future evolution of these events in the Great Lakes region. The future evolution of this index was projected using temperature and precipitation from the Canadian Regional Climate Model large ensemble (CRCM5-LE). These climate data were used as input in Precipitation Runoff Modelling System (PRMS) hydrological model to simulate the future evolution of high flows in three watersheds in southern Ontario. We also used five recurrent large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns in north-eastern North America and identified how they control the past and future variability of the newly created index and high flows. The results show that daily precipitation higher than 10 mm and temperature higher than 5 ∘C were necessary historical conditions to produce high flows in these three watersheds. In the historical period, the occurrences of these heavy rain and warm events as well as high flows were associated with two main patterns characterized by high Z500 anomalies centred on eastern Great Lakes (HP regime) and the Atlantic Ocean (South regime). These hydrometeorological extreme events will still be associated with the same atmospheric patterns in the near future. The future evolution of the index will be modulated by the internal variability of the climate system, as higher Z500 on the east coast will amplify the increase in the number of events, especially the warm events. The relationship between the extreme weather index and high flows will be modified in the future as the snowpack reduces and rain becomes the main component of high-flow generation. This study shows the value of the CRCM5-LE dataset in simulating hydrometeorological extreme events in eastern Canada and better understanding the uncertainties associated with internal variability of climate.

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Future shift in winter streamflow modulated by the internal variability of climate in southern Ontario
Olivier Champagne, M. Altaf Arain, Martin Leduc, Paulin Coulibaly, Shawn McKenzie
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Volume 24, Issue 6

Abstract. Fluvial systems in southern Ontario are regularly affected by widespread early-spring flood events primarily caused by rain-on-snow events. Recent studies have shown an increase in winter floods in this region due to increasing winter temperature and precipitation. Streamflow simulations are associated with uncertainties mainly due to the different scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions, global climate models (GCMs) or the choice of the hydrological model. The internal variability of climate, defined as the chaotic variability of atmospheric circulation due to natural internal processes within the climate system, is also a source of uncertainties to consider. Uncertainties of internal variability can be assessed using hydrological models fed by downscaled data of a global climate model large ensemble (GCM-LE), but GCM outputs have too coarse of a scale to be used in hydrological modeling. The Canadian Regional Climate Model Large Ensemble (CRCM5-LE), a 50-member ensemble downscaled from the Canadian Earth System Model version 2 Large Ensemble (CanESM2-LE), was developed to simulate local climate variability over northeastern North America under different future climate scenarios. In this study, CRCM5-LE temperature and precipitation projections under an RCP8.5 scenario were used as input in the Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) to simulate streamflow at a near-future horizon (2026–2055) for four watersheds in southern Ontario. To investigate the role of the internal variability of climate in the modulation of streamflow, the 50 members were first grouped in classes of similar projected change in January–February streamflow and temperature and precipitation between 1961–1990 and 2026–2055. Then, the regional change in geopotential height (Z500) from CanESM2-LE was calculated for each class. Model simulations showed an average January–February increase in streamflow of 18 % (±8.7) in Big Creek, 30.5 % (±10.8) in Grand River, 29.8 % (±10.4) in Thames River and 31.2 % (±13.3) in Credit River. A total of 14 % of all ensemble members projected positive Z500 anomalies in North America's eastern coast enhancing rain, snowmelt and streamflow volume in January–February. For these members the increase of streamflow is expected to be as high as 31.6 % (±8.1) in Big Creek, 48.3 % (±11.1) in Grand River, 47 % (±9.6) in Thames River and 53.7 % (±15) in Credit River. Conversely, 14 % of the ensemble projected negative Z500 anomalies in North America's eastern coast and were associated with a much lower increase in streamflow: 8.3 % (±7.8) in Big Creek, 18.8 % (±5.8) in Grand River, 17.8 % (±6.4) in Thames River and 18.6 % (±6.5) in Credit River. These results provide important information to researchers, managers, policymakers and society about the expected ranges of increase in winter streamflow in a highly populated region of Canada, and they will help to explain how the internal variability of climate is expected to modulate the future streamflow in this region.


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Atmospheric circulation amplifies shift of winter streamflow in southern Ontario
Olivier Champagne, M. Altaf Arain, Paulin Coulibaly
Journal of Hydrology, Volume 578

Abstract Flooding is a major concern for Canadian society as it is the costliest natural disaster type in Canada. Southern Ontario, which houses one-third of the Canadian population, is located in an area of high vulnerability for floods. The most significant floods in the region have historically occurred during the months of March and April due to snowmelt coupled with extreme rain events. However, during the last three decades, there has been a shift of flooding events to earlier months. The aim of this study was to understand the impacts of atmospheric circulation on the temporal shift of streamflow and high flow events observed in southern Ontario over 1957–2013 period. Predominant weather regimes over North America, corresponding to recurrent meteorological situations, were identified using a discretization of daily geopotential height at 500HpA level (Z500). A regime-normalized hypothetical temperature and precipitation dataset was constructed to quantify the contribution of atmospheric circulation on streamflow response. The hypothetical dataset was used as input in the Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS), a rainfall-runoff semi-distributed hydrological model, and applied to four watersheds in southern Ontario. The results showed an increase in the temporal frequency of the regime identified here as High Pressure (HP) close to eight occurrences per decade. Regime HP, characterized by a northern position of the polar vortex, is correlated with a positive phase of the NAO and is associated with warm and wet conditions over southern Ontario during winter. The temporal increase in HP contributed more than 40% of the increase in streamflow in winter and 30–45% decrease in streamflow in April. This atmospheric situation also contributed to increase the number of high flows by 25–50% in January. These results are important to improve the seasonal forecasting of high flows and to assess the uncertainty in the temporal evolution of streamflow in the Great Lakes region.

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Climate indices to characterize climatic changes across southern Canada
Hussein Wazneh, M. Altaf Arain, Paulin Coulibaly
Meteorological Applications, Volume 27, Issue 1

The present study analyses the impacts of past and future climate change on extreme weather events for southern parts of Canada from 1981 to 2100. A set of precipitation and temperature‐based indices were computed using the downscaled Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) multi‐model ensemble projections at 8 km resolution over the 21st Century for two representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios: RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. The results show that this region is expected to experience stronger warming and a higher increase in precipitation extremes in future. Generally, projected changes in minimum temperature will be greater than changes in maximum temperature, as shown by respective indices. A decrease in frost days and an increase in warm nights will be expected. By 2100 there will be no cool nights and cool days. Daily minimum and maximum temperatures will increase by 12 and 7°C, respectively, under the RCP8.5 scenario, when compared with the reference period 1981–2000. The highest warming in minimum temperature and decrease in cool nights and days will occur in Ontario and Quebec provinces close to the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay. The highest warming in maximum temperature will occur in the southern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Annual total precipitation is expected to increase by about 16% and the occurrence of heavy precipitation events by five days. The highest increase in annual total precipitation will occur in the northern parts of Ontario and Quebec and in western British Columbia.