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    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    Atmospheric and hydrospheric sciences


    Assessing the impact of climate change on sediment discharge using a large ensemble rainfall dataset in Pekerebetsu River basin, Hokkaido

    Riho Kido, Takuya Inoue, Misako Hatono, Kazuki YamanoiRiho Kido, Takuya Inoue, Misako Hatono, Kazuki Yamanoi

    Climate change, Sediment discharge, Large-ensemble data, Temporal rainfall pattern, Slope failure, Channel erosion, Spatial resolution of climate change projections

    Return period of the amount of sediment discharge for 10 days. (a) Results using 20 km resolution rainfall data, and (b) Results using 5 km resolution rainfall data. Blue and orange dots represent historical climate simulation and +4 K future climate simulation, respectively.

    Increased rainfall associated with climate change can increase sediment discharge. The supply of fine sediment from slope failures inhibits bed armoring of mountain rivers and increases sediment discharge to the downstream reaches. Floods without slope failures lead to bed erosion and armoring and may ultimately decrease sediment discharge. Thus, it is important to consider sediment discharge from slope failure and bed erosion as factors affecting sediment production. Climate change affects not only the rainfall amount, but also the temporal rainfall pattern; consequently, the pattern affects the sediment production factors and the amount of sediment discharge. However, changes in sediment discharge due to climate change based on sediment production sources have not yet been clarified. In this study, we statistically analyzed 1200 results simulated using a physics-based sediment runoff model to assess the impact of changes in temporal rainfall patterns on sediment discharge and sediment production sources in the Pekerebetsu River Basin. In the simulations, we used the rainfall predicted in d4PDF (Database for policy decision-making for future climate change), a large ensemble climate simulation database at 5 km and 20 km resolutions. Our results showed that the climate-driven increase in sediment discharge was considerably larger than that of rainfall. An increase in short-term heavy rainfall increased the supply of fine sediments from slope failure. This resulted in the suppression of bed armoring and a large increase in sediment discharge. Thus, the increase in sediment discharge is not only caused by an increase in rainfall but also by changes in temporal rainfall patterns and sediment production factors. The sediment discharge calculated for the 20 km resolution climate projection was nearly one order of magnitude smaller than that for the 5 km resolution. This suggests that the 20 km resolution climate projections do not adequately represent orographic rainfall in the mountains and thus, do not adequately reproduce extreme sediment discharge events. An increased sediment supply causes bed aggradation and decreases the river conveyance capacity of the downstream channel. The model developed in this study will contribute to flood risk analysis and flood control planning for increased rainfall due to climate change.