American Journal of Water Resources
ISSN (Print): 2333-4797 ISSN (Online): 2333-4819 Website: Editor-in-chief: Apply for this position
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Water Resources. 2016, 4(1), 1-15
DOI: 10.12691/ajwr-4-1-1
Open AccessArticle

Hydrologic and Hydraulic Impact of Climate Change on Lake Ontario Tributary

Sadik Ahmed1 and Ioannis Tsanis1,

1Department of Civil Engineering, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L7, Canada

Pub. Date: February 24, 2016

Cite this paper:
Sadik Ahmed and Ioannis Tsanis. Hydrologic and Hydraulic Impact of Climate Change on Lake Ontario Tributary. American Journal of Water Resources. 2016; 4(1):1-15. doi: 10.12691/ajwr-4-1-1


Climate model projections indicate that the frequency and magnitude of hydrological extremes will increase in a future climate due to increasing concentration of greenhouse gases. Increase in precipitation depth will lead to higher peak flows, and will bring floods with higher inundation depths and larger extends. This study involves the climate change impact analysis of design storms, peak flows and flooding scenario for the Clearview Creek drainage area located in Southern Ontario, Canada. First, the storm depths for different return periods and durations were calculated from the observed rainfall data and the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) climate simulations. The storm depths were calculated by using the best fitted distribution among twenty seven distributions. The design storm depths calculated from the observed and climate model simulated data are used as input into an existing Visual OTTHYMO model of the study area for flow simulation. The simulated peak flows for 24hr Storm of different return periods are used as input in the HEC-RAS model for hydraulic analyses. Frequency analysis results show that the storm depths are predicted to increase significantly under future climate. Simulated flow results show an increase of peak flows ranging from about 26 % to 64% for 2yr and 100yr return periods at the outlet of the Creek. Finally, the analyses of flooding scenario revealed an average increase of water surface elevation and extents by 30 cm and 37.1 m, respectively, for a 100 year return period flood. It is also revealed that the variability of flow simulated by hydrologic model and flow area simulated by the hydraulic analyses tool are much higher than the variability of the storm depths under future climate condition.

climate change frequency analysis design storm hydrology flood Canada

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Bates, B., Kundzewicz, Z.W., Wu, S., and Palutikof, J., “Climate change and water,” Technical Paper of the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva: IPCC Technical Paper VI, 2008.
[2]  Berggren,K., Olofsson, M.,Viklander, M., Svensson, G., and Gustafsson, A., “Hydraulic Impacts on Urban Drainage Systems due to Changes in Rainfall Caused by Climatic Change,” J. Hydrol. Eng., 17 (1), 92-98, 2012.
[3]  Brown, C., “The end of reliability.” J. Water Resour. Plann. Manage., 136(2), 143-145, 2010.
[4]  Chen, C., and Knutson, T., “On the verification and comparison of extreme rainfall indices from climate models.” J. Clim., 21 (7), 1605-1621, 2008.
[5]  City of Mississauga, Development requirement manual. City of Mississauga, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, 2009.
[6]  Civica Infrastructure, Visual OTTHYMO (VO) v3.0 User’s Guide, Civica Infrastructure Inc., Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, 2013.
[7]  Civica Infrastructure, Visual OTTHYMO (VO) v3.0 Reference Manual, Civica Infrastructure Inc., Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, 2012.
[8]  Collins W.D., Bitz, C.M., Blackmon, M.L., Bonan, G.B., Bretherton, C.S., Carton, J.A., Chang, P., Doney, S.C., Hack, J.J., Henderson, T.B., Kiehl, J.T., Large, W.G., McKenna, D.S., Santer, B.D., and Smith, R.D., “The community climate system model version 3 (CCSM3),” J. Climate, 19: 2122-2143, 2006.
[9]  Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), CVC standard parameters, 2011. Retrieved from (accessed 12 December 2015)
[10]  Cunderlik, J.M., and Simonovic, S.P., “Inverse Flood Risk Modelling under Changing Climatic Condition,” Hydrological Processes, 21(5), 563-577, 2007.
[11]  Dibike, Y.B., & Coulibaly, P., “Validation of hydrological models for climate scenario simulation: the case of Saguenay watershed in Quebec,” Hydrological Processes, 21(23), 3123-3135, 2007.
[12]  Elguindi, N., Bi, X., Giorgi, F., Nagarajan, B., Pal, J., Solmon, F., Rauscher, S., and Zakey, A., RegCM Version 3.1 User’s Guide, Trieste, Italy, 2007.
[13]  Environment Canada, Canadian climate normal, 1981-2010 staion data, 2015. Retrieved from =e&StationName=Toronto&SearchType=Contains&stnNameSubmit=go&dCode=1 (accessed 11 October 2015)
[14]  Eum, H., Sredojevic, D., and Simonovic, S.P., “Engineering procedure for the climate change flood risk assessment in the upper Thames River Basin,” J. of Hydrol. Eng., 16, 608-612, 2011.
[15]  Flato, G. M., “The Third Generation Coupled Global Climate Model (CGCM3),” 2005. Retrieved from (accessed 9 August 2015).
[16]  Flood Damage Reduction Program (FDRP), 2015. Retrieved from 0365F5C2-1 (accessed 9 August 2015)
[17]  Forsee, W.J., and Ahmad, S., “Evaluating urban storm-water infrastructure design in response to projected climate change,” J. Hydrol. Eng., 16 (11), 865-873, 2011.
[18]  Gellens, D., and Roulin, E., “Streamflow response of Belgian catchments to IPCC climate change scenarios,” J. Hydrol. 210, 242-258, 1998.
[19]  GFDL GAMDT (The GFDL Global Model Development Team), “The new GFDL global atmospheric and land model AM2-LM2: Evaluation with prescribed SST simulations,” J. Climate, 17, 4641-4673, 2004.
[20]  Giorgi, F., Marinucci, M.R., and Bates, G.T., “Development of second generation regional climate model (RegCM2) I: boundary layer and radiative transfer processes,” Mon. Weather Rev., 121, 2794-2813, 1993.
[21]  Gordon, C., Cooper, C., Senior, C.A., Banks, H., Gregory, J.M., Johns, T.C., Mitchell, J.F.B., and Wood, R.A., “The simulation of SST, sea ice extents and ocean heat transports in a version of the Hadley Centre coupled model without flux adjustments,” Climate Dynamics ,16, 147-168, 2000.
[22]  Hamlet, A.F., and Lettenmaier, D.P., “Effects of climate change on hydrology and water resources in the Columbia River basin,” J. Am. Water Resour. Assoc. 35 (6), 1597-1623, 1999.
[23]  Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), HEC-GeoRAS GIS Tools for Support of HEC-RAS using ArcGIS User’sManual. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Davis, CA, USA, 2011.
[24]  Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), HEC-RAS River Analysis System, Hydraulic Reference Manual. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Davis, CA, USA, 2010.
[25]  IPCC, “Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report,” Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Core Writing Team, Pachauri, P.K. and Meyer, L.A. (eds.), IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp., 2014.
[26]  Jones, R., Noguer, M., Hassell, D., Hudson, D., Wilson, S., Jenkins, G., and Mitchell, J., “Generating high resolution climate change scenarios using PRECIS,” Met Office Hadley Center, Exter, p 40, 2004.
[27]  Karla, A., and Ahmad, S., “Using Oceanic-atmospheric oscillations for long lead time streamflow forecasting,” Water Resour. Res., 45, W03413, 2009.
[28]  Keifer, D.J., and Chu, H.H., “Synthetic Storm Pattern for Drainage Design,” ASCE Journal of the Hydraulics Division, Vol. 83 (HY4), pp: 1332.1-1332.25, 1957.
[29]  Kite, G.W., Application of a land class hydrological model to climate change. Water Resour. Res. 29 (7), 2377-2384, 1993.
[30]  Kozanis, S., Christofides, A., and Efstratiadis, A., “Scientific documentation of the hydrogram software version 4,” Athens, pp173, 2010.
[31]  Kundzewicz, Z.W., Mata L.J., Arnell, N.W., D¨oll, P., Kabat, P., Jimenez, B., Miller, K.A.,Oki, T., Sen, Z., and Shiklomanov. I.A., Fresh water resources and their management. In Climate Change2007. Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, VanDerLinde PJ, Hanson CE(eds). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK; 173-210, 2007.
[32]  Lemmon, D.S. and Warren, F.J., Climate Change Impacts and Adaption: A Canadian Perspective. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Natural Resources Canada, 2004.
[33]  Leung, R.L., and Wigmosta, M.S., “Potential climate change impacts on mountain watersheds in the Pacific Northwest,” J. Am. Water Resour. Assoc. 35 (6), 1463-1471, 1999.
[34]  Mailhot, A., Beauregard,I., Talbot, G., Caya, D., and Biner, S., “Future changes in intense precipitation over Canada assessed from multi-model NARCCAP ensemble simulations,” Int. J. Climato., 32, 1151-1163, 2012.
[35]  Mailhot, A., Duchesne, S., Caya, D., and Talbot, G., “Assessment of future change in intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) curves for Southern Quebec using the Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM),” J. Hydrol., 347, 197-210, 2007.
[36]  Mearns, L.O., et al., 2007, updated 2012. The North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program dataset, National Center for Atmospheric Research Earth System Grid data portal, Boulder, CO. Data downloaded 2015-07-07.
[37]  Mearns, L. O., Gutowski, W.J., Jones, R., Leung, L.Y., McGinnis, S., Nunes, A.M.B. and Qian, Y., “A regional climate change assessment program for North America,” EOS, 90 (36), 311-312, 2009.
[38]  Milly, P.C.D., Betancourt, J., Falkenmark, M., Hirsch, R.M., Kundzewicz, Z.W., Lettenmaier, D.P., and Stouffer, R.J., “Climate change-stationary is dead: whither water management?” Science, 319 (5863), 573-574, 2008.
[39]  Moglen, G.E., and Vidal,G.E.R., “Climate change impact and storm water infrastructure in the Mid-Atlantic region: design mismatch coming?” J. Hydrol. Eng., 19, 2014.
[40]  MTO, Evaluation of Drainage Management Software, 2015. Retrieved from (accessed 12 December 2015).
[41]  MTO, MTO Drainage management manual. Drainage and Hydrology Section, Ministry of Transportation, Ontario, Canada, 1997.
[42]  Music, B., and Caya, D., “Evaluation of the hydrological cycle over the Mississippi River Basin as simulated by the Canadian regional climate model (CRCM),” J. Hydrometeor., 8, 969-988, 2007.
[43]  Nakicenvoic, N., Davidson, O., Davis, G., Grübler, A., Kram, T., Rovere, E., Metz, M., Morita, T., Pepper, W., Pitcher, H., Sankovski, A., Shukla, P., Swart, R., Watson, R., and Dadi, Z., Special Report on Emissions Scenarios. A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press Cambridge, 599, 2000.
[44]  NARCCAP, North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program, 2013. Retrieved from (accessed 26 January 2013).
[45]  Olsson, J., Berggren, K., Olofsson, M., and Viklander, M., “Apply-ing climate model precipitation scenarios for urban hydrological assessment: A case study in Kalmar City, Sweden,”Atmos.Res., 92(3), 364-375, 2009.
[46]  Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), Technical Guide - River and Stream Systems: Flooding Hazard Limit. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario, Canada, 2002.
[47]  Pope, V.D., Gallani, M.L., Rowntree, P.R., and Stratton, R.A., “The impact of new physical parameterizations in the Hadley Centre climate model—HadAM3,” Climate Dynamics, 16, 123-146. 2000.
[48]  Prudhomme, C., Reynard, N., and Crooks, S., “Downscaling of global climate models for flood frequency analysis: Where are we now?” Hydrol. Processes, 16(6), 1137-1150, 2002.
[49]  Semadeni-Davies, A., Hernebring, C., Svensson, G., and Gustafsson, L., “The impacts of climate change and urbanisation on drainage in Helsingborg, Sweden: Combined sewer system,” J. Hydrol., 350, 100-113, 2008.
[50]  Valipour, M., “Optimization of neural networks for precipitation analysis in a humid region to detect drought and wet year alarms,” Meteorological Application, 2015.
[51]  Valipour M., “Long-term runoff study using SARIMA and ARIMA models in the United States,” Meteorological Application, 22, 592-598, 2015.
[52]  Valipour, M., “Use of surface water supply index to assessing of water resources management in Colorado and Oregon, US,” Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research, 3(2):631-640, 2013.
[53]  Valipour, M., “Estimation of Surface Water Supply Index Using Snow Water Equivalent,” Advances in Agriculture, Sciences and Engineering Research, 3(1): 587-602, 2013.
[54]  Zahmatkesh, Z., Karamouz, M., Goharian, E., and Burian, S.J., “Analyses of the effects of climate change on urban storm water runoff using statistically downscaled precipitation data and a change factor approach,” J. Hydrologic Eng., 20(7), 05014022. 2015.
[55]  Zhu, J., “Impact of climate change on extreme rainfall across the United States,” J. Hydrol. Eng., 18(10), 1301-1309, 2013.
[56]  Zhu, J., Stone, M.C., and Forsee, W., “Analysis of potential impact of climate change on intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) relationships for six regions in the United States,” J. Water and Climate Change, 3(3), 185-196, 2012.