Quantification of climate change impact on dam failure risk under hydrological scenarios: a case study from a Spanish dam
Dam safety is increasingly subjected to the influence of climate change. Its impacts must be assessed through the integration of the various effects acting on each aspect, considering their interdependencies, rather than just a simple accumulation of separate impacts. This serves as a dam safety management supporting tool to assess the vulnerability of the dam to climate change and to define adaptation strategies under an evolutive dam failure risk management framework. This article presents a comprehensive quantitative assessment of the impacts of climate change on the safety of a Spanish dam under hydrological scenarios, integrating the various projected effects acting on each component of the risk, from the input hydrology to the consequences of the outflow hydrograph. In particular, the results of 21 regional climate models encompassing three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) have been used to calculate the risk evolution of the dam until the end of the 21st century. Results show a progressive deterioration of the dam failure risk, for most of the cases contemplated, especially for the RCP2.6 and RCP4.5 scenarios. Moreover, the individual analysis of each risk component shows that the alteration of the expected inflows has the greater influence on the final risk. The approach followed in this paper can serve as a useful guidebook for dam owners and dam safety practitioners in the analysis of other study cases.