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Numerical simulations of precipitation and streamflow in current climate and future projections of drainage areas of Brazilian hydroelectric plants

Wanderson Luiz Silva*, Maria Elvira P. Maceira, Otto C. Rotunno Filho

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ABSTRACT: Hydroelectric sources are a major contributor to power generation in Brazil. The constant evaluation climate change impacts is relevant for guiding Brazilian energy policy. The present study presents a methodological framework composed of the calibration of a hydrological model and verification of a climate model in the present climate (1961–1990), in addition to future scenarios (2011–2100) of precipitation and streamflow for 4 hydroelectric plants in Brazil. For future projections, data from the Eta regional climate model (20 km of horizontal resolution) nested to the HadGEM2-ES and MIROC5 global climate models were used. Monthly linear bias correction was applied to the simulations. Future projections were based on IPCC RCP4.5 and 8.5 scenarios. The SMAP hydrological model was adopted on a monthly scale with the addition of a translation parameter that examines the level of dependence that the streamflow of the previous month exerts on the present streamflow. The climate and hydrological models can satisfactorily capture the distribution of precipitation and streamflow in different Brazilian regions, and represent the seasonal variability well. Future projections point to a reduction in rainfall and natural streamflow in central-northern Brazil and a slight increase in the southern region. These scenarios should be carefully considered and require constant improvement and research since uncertainties exist which are mainly associated with atmospheric dynamics and the hydrological cycle.