Detailed Project Description

Climate Change and hydrological extreme events - Risks and perspectives for water management in Bavaria and Québec

Project Period: 2015 to 2019

Not least because of the partly dramatic consequences of the floods (2013, 2005, 2002, 1999) or the extended dry periods (Fall 2011, Spring 2007, Summer 2003) of the recent past, the consideration of extreme hydrological events in Bavaria has become the focus of scientific and also social interest. In addition to the challenges of an improved prediction of such situations and the implications for the associated risk management, so far there is no confirmed knowledge whether and how climate change contributes to the accumulation and intensification of hydrological extreme events and how the Bavarian water management could adapt to corresponding risks and possible changes in dynamics. This shall be examined in detail in the context of the CLIMEX project. The project partners bundle their core competencies in the fields of climate modeling (Ouranos), hydrological modeling (LMU, CEHQ, ETS) and of supercomputing and data management (LRZ / LMU)  to improve the analysis and quantification of the impacts of climate change on hydrological extremes and derive from these results recommendations for a proactive management of Bavarian water resources. To facilitate a future expansion of climate (change) research in the Bavarian research landscape the project is designed as three modules (Module A - AIR; Module B - WATER; module Z - IT Infrastructure). The provided data and results from the climate-hydrological model chain will be available to other disciplines on a permanent basis (in this context: other possible modules). The expansion of activities such as agriculture, forestry, energy, ecology or even the health sector remains possible at any time.

The proposed project focuses on the assessment of flood events in Bavaria, but will also examine the future development of low flow events in order to make spatially differentiated, qualitative statements that can be used for the identification of risk areas.

The proposed investigations build extensively on the findings of the previous projects jointly conducted with the partners from Québec (projects KliFluM and BIKLIM in Bavaria, (cQ) ² in Québec; joint project QBIC³). Thus, a follow up project that exploits the collaboration of an expanded group of experts from Bavaria and Québec therefore constitutes significant added value for the water management research and practice in Bavaria.

Firstly, by employing the methodological expertise of Canadian partners better access to higher resolution dynamic climate projections will be made available in the coming years as a profitable outcome for Bavaria. Secondly, the methodology shall be transferred to the entire ‘hydrological Bavaria’ while relying on an in-parallel development and application of a pool of methods pools in Southern Quebec in key areas.

An innovative approach of the issues outlined above requires the use of considerable computing power together with the expertise of professional data processing and innovative data management (LMU & Leibniz Computer, Prof. Kranzlmüller). The use of the high-performance computer SuperMUC, one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, allows for the calculation, deployment and visualization of large multi-model and multi-scenario ensembles, which are essential for a probabilistic analysis of the dynamics of flood events under the influence of climate change. In addition, better differentiation between the effects of climate variability and a climate change signal becomes feasible. Particular emphasis is placed on the improvement and review of data and model uncertainties; these are in conflict with well-organized adaptation to the expected impacts of climate change. Only with the proposed IT capabilities a significant advance in the containment of these uncertainties becomes accessible. The applicants plan to establish a scenario model environment for "virtual perfect prediction", with which the wide range of prevention, mitigation and adaptation strategies can be tested in parallel and can be evaluated in terms of their capacity and efficiency at different spatial and temporal scales.

It should be emphasized that the scope of the proposed investigation with its regional specification is unprecedented. The collaboration with the project partner Ouranos guarantees access to their climate scientific competence and to the regional climate model CRCM5, an internationally well-established model due to its involvement the ENSEMBLES project and the CORDEX initiative. Scientifically, this application is treading new ground, but is clearly geared towards planning support in the water management practice in Bavaria. Again, a direct practical added value is expected by the intensive cooperation with the CEHQ, the Québec water management authorities and Bavarian experts in operational water management and flood forecasting.

The results of the project will be publicly presented to experts in the field, the implied and interested ministries and authorities as well as to interested representatives from the industry in an interim symposium (expected Spring 2017) and a final symposium (spring 2019) presented to the public.