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Climate change will increase potential hydropower production in six Arctic Council member countries based on probabilistic hydrological projections

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This paper is available in a repository.

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Potential hydropower production for 2020–2050 is calculated for 173 catchments located over the territories of Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Russian Federation, Canada and the United States. The results are based on hydrological river runoff projections assessed together with their exceedance probabilities. The annual runoff rate of particular exceedance probability was modelled with the Pearson type 3 distribution from three parameters (mean values, coefficient of variation and coefficient of skewness) simulated by the probabilistic hydrological MARcov Chain System (MARCS) model. The probabilistic projections of annual runoff were simulated from outputs of four global climate models under three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). The future potential hydropower production was evaluated based on annual runoff of low and high exceedance probabilities, and then aggregated at a country level. Under forcing from climate models that project a large increase in precipitation (CaEMS2 and MPI-EMS-LM), the expected potential hydropower production in the six countries increased by 14.0 to 18.0 % according to the projected values of annual runoff rate on exceedance probabilities of 10 and 90 %. This increase in water resources allows for 10–15 % more hydropower energy generation by rivers located in Russia, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. For the USA and Canada, the potential hydropower production is projected to increases by 4.0–9.0 %. Under forcing from climate models that project a smaller increase in precipitation (HadGEM2-ES and INMCM4), the increase of potential hydropower production by 2050 was predicted to be 2.1–8.4 % over the six countries considered.

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