Changes in the precipitation regime over the Italian Peninsula and their possible impacts on the electric system

DOI: 10.3369/tethys.2018.15.02

Tethys no. 15 pp.: 18 - 30


Extreme weather events represent serious risks for human activities and infrastructures. Hazards such as floods and droughts are one of the main challenges of the 21st century because of their significant societal and economic implications. In particular, their intensification puts a strain on the continuity of energy supply. The aim of this piece of work is to assess climate changes in average and extreme precipitations for the forthcoming decades over Italy. Two future scenarios have been elaborated (medium-term, 2021-2050 and long-term, 2071-2100) by analyzing Med-CORDEX simulations at a horizontal resolution of about 50 km in two emission scenarios (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5). First, model values were bias-corrected by referring to E-OBS data, then a subset of standard indicators (WMO, 2009) was considered to investigate the change of climate signal. Despite some degree of uncertainty, the most significant climate change signals concern a general decrease in the average rainfall and an increase in extreme precipitation over some regions. The intensification of these events will lead to higher risks for electric failures; the reduction of mean precipitations will lead to a decline in hydroelectric power generation as well
as water stress in cooling thermoelectric power plants.

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Partially funded through grants CGL2007-29820-E/CLI, CGL2008-02804-E/, CGL2009-07417-E and CGL2011-14046-E of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation