Climate change impacts on the water cycle, resources and quality

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International WORKSHOP on Climate Change Impacts on the Water Cycle, Resources and Quality

25 & 26 September 2006, Brussels


Research Policy Interface


Brussels, 25 & 26 September 2006


Edited by

DG RTD – Environment-Climate Unit

Elisabeth Lipiatou

Marta Moren
DG JRC – Institute for Environment and Sustainability

Luc Feyen

Anna-Stiina Heiskanen

Peeter Noges

Anne Lyche Solheim
DG ENV – Protection of Water and Marine Environment Unit

Philippe Quevauviller

With special thanks for the secretarial work to Valérie Dissard, DG RTD, Environment-Climate Unit

1. Foreword

- Preface by the three Directors-General for Research, Environment and JRC Error: Reference source not found

2. Introduction and Objectives 9
3. Executive Summary and Abstracts
Executive summary 17

Opening Session

- "Overview of climate change projections in Europe" - Daniela Jacob 25

Session I: Climate Change Impacts on the Water Cycle and Resources

- Objectives 33

- "A risk analysis for world freshwater availability under future climate change" -
M. Scholze 34

- "Climate change and floods in Europe" - L. Feyen 37

- "Climate change and drought: the role of critical thresholds and feedbacks" -
M. Millán 44

- "Climate change impacts on water resources in developing countries" - Jan Polcher 54

- "Climate change impacts on global water cycle and implications for water management
in Europe"
- P. Kabat 56

Session II: Climate Change Impacts on the Water Quality – nutrients, organic content, toxic compounds, ecological status and biodiversity

- Objectives 61

- "Sensitivity of freshwater ecosystems for climate change impacts" - T. Blenckner 62

- "Status and requirements for climate change research in European regional seas" -

N. Hoepffner 64

- "Impacts of climate change on cycling, accumulation & feedbacks of chemicals in aquatic ecosystems" - J. Dachs 66

- "Climate change impacts aquatic ecosystems: critical threshold for water policies" -

C. Duarte 69

- "Climate change & projections on water quality changes in Europe - Aquatic ecosystem response to climate change: past, present and future" - R. Battarbee 71

Session III: Economic and Social Implications associated with Changes of Water Cycle and Resources by Climate Change

- Objectives 77

- "Impacts of climate change in Europe: the PESETA project" - J. C. Ciscar Martinez 79

- "Water resources and climate change: impacts on agriculture in Europe" - J. Olesen 81

- "Long-term planning of flood risk management" - J. Schanze 86

- "Land use and climate change" - M. Obersteiner 90

- "Impacts on water resources and hydropower production" - N. R. Sælthun 93

- "Climate change & human dimension: health impacts of floods" - D. Guha-Sapir 95

Session IV: Adaptation Needs of the Water Resources Management in Europe

- Objectives 99

- "Green paper on Climate Change and adaptation measures" - A. Howells 100

- "Adaptive water management as a response to cope with implications of climate change"

J. Möltgen 102

- "Climate change impacts on water management and adaptation needs in Europe" -

Z. Kundzewicz 113

Session V: Climate Change and the water dimensions in the MS: Research & Policy

- Objectives 113

- " Introduction to national adaptation strategies for climate impacts on water resources
in the EU"
- A. Jol 114

- "Case study 1: the Spanish strategy: national adaptation plan to climate change" -

J.R. Picatoste-Ruggeroni 119

- "Case study 2: UK adaptation strategy in the water sector: approach and issues" -

M. McKenzie Hedger 121

- "Case study 3: Netherlands policies and initiatives on adaptation to climate change" -

J. Buntsma 128

4. Agenda 133
5. List of Participants 139


With special thanks to Valérie Dissard for her contribution to the editing and publication of this catalogue

Climate change resulting from human activity is already starting to have negative impacts on our way of life. It is likely that climate change is to blame for the increasing frequency of natural hazards (floods, heat waves, droughts, forest fires, etc). There is increasing evidence that temperature rises and changing precipitation patterns will exacerbate the already acute water shortage problem in the southern and south eastern regions of Europe. Changes are expected in the frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, and these could cause significant financial and human loss throughout Europe.
Climate change could have important consequences on the quantities and quality of fresh water available in the future. Interdisciplinary research is needed for us to build knowledge and devise strategies for the sustainable development of different regions in a changing climate. It will also provide results that can feed into policy development.
The floods and droughts of 2005 and the heat wave and droughts of 2006 were of considerable concern in Europe. The Commission is taking action in response to these events, and would like to show citizens that research is being undertaken on the issues they are concerned about and that the results can support policies that leave us better prepared to face environmental change.
Indeed, climate change has become an increasingly important area in the EU’s framework research and development (R&D) programmes. Climate change is a priority in the forthcoming 7th Research Framework Programme, which will run from 2007 to 2013.
In this context, three Directorates-General of the European Commission, Research, Environment and the Joint Research Centre, jointly organised a workshop in Brussels on 25‑26 September 2006 to discuss climate change impacts on the water cycle, and to review research and policy in order to pave the way for the development of an adequate policy-research interface.
The workshop fitted in well with international discussions. The impact of climate change on water, adaptation and mitigation strategies was a key component at the second meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 2) in Nairobi from 6 to 17 November 2006. The issue will also be discussed in depth at the International Conference on Climate Change and the Water Dimension, which will be held in Berlin on 12-13 February 2007 under the German Presidency.

The workshop in Brussels had a strategic impact on the research and policy communities by defining interactions between science and policy on climate change and water and by discussing what scientists know about climate change - and the areas of uncertainty - and ways in which scientific outputs could be translated into policies. Whether you are active in – or interested in – the scientific or political sides of this important topic, we trust you will find this report of the results of the workshop of considerable interest.


Director-General for Director-General Director-General for Research

Environment Joint Research Centre

Introduction and Objectives

Projections of climate models based on different scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions indicate a warming of 1.4 to 5.8 ºC over the next century. The projected change in climate will significantly impact the hydrological cycle. A warmer climate will increase evaporation, the intensity of water cycling, and result in greater amounts of moisture in the air. It is expected that the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events will increase, and that hydrological extremes such as floods and droughts will likely be more frequent and severe over most of Europe. At the same time, in some regions the rising demand for water in sectors like agriculture and energy production may further increase Europe’s vulnerability to drought. Besides effects on water quantity, climate change is likely to affect water quality by inducing physico-chemical, biological and hydro-morphological changes.
Research into climate change impacts on the water cycle improves the understanding and assessment of key drivers and their interactions. This research will assist the identification of risks, uncertainties and to develop measures for mitigation and adaptation.. As there is growing consensus that climate change is a serious and long-term challenge with potentially irreversible consequences, it has become one of the main priorities within the European Commission. Consequently,, a wide spectrum of research projects related to climate science, impacts, adaptation and mitigation have been supported by the European Union. This effort will be continued under the 7th Framework Research Programme (FP7), where climate change is one of the 4 activities in the Environment thematic area of the Cooperation Scientific Programme. Besides, research directed towards improving understanding of process and prediction, are aspects that will be specifically taken into account and linked to emerging needs and policy relevant research, such as drought risk assessment in Europe or the incorporation of climate change impacts into water policies. In addition, results from European research are important contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and for the implementation of international commitments such as UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto protocol.
Current EU water policies (e.g. Water Framework Directive) have a planning cycle reaching 10-30 years in the future. Within this time scale, the projected climate change and its impacts on the water cycle and water resources will likely lead to higher environmental, ecological and socio-economic pressures and costs in Europe. The question has been posed whether the present water policy framework covers issues of climate change, and if there are opportunities for developing adaptation measures to climate change policies considering the frame of the existing EU water policy.
The workshop brought together scientists and water managers to obtain an overview of science and policy challenges on climate change impacts on water, and to review the key results of on-going (FP6) or completed EU projects on climate change and water. Moreover, it explored whether the current scientific outcomes are sufficiently mature to be taken aboard policy development, as well as to suggest priority research topics that should be addressed at the European level in the future.
The workshop represented a milestone in defining key elements on the assessment of climate change impact on water cycle, quality and resources and also on setting the interface between science and policy.
The objectives of the workshop were:

  • to review key results of on-going (6th Research Framework programme -FP6) or completed EU projects dealing with climate change impacts on the water cycle;

  • to review adaptation strategies implemented in different Member States;

  • to explore whether the current scientific outcomes are sufficiently mature to be taken on board by policy development;

  • to define gaps of knowledge, as well as needs from and for policy;

  • to define priority research topics that should be addressed at the European level as strategic input to the implementation of FP7;

  • to define the agenda and an adequate platform for establishing interactions between science and policy in the field of climate change and the water cycle;

  • to define long-term research priorities in the present research and policy context.

By successfully meeting the above objectives, the workshop represented a milestone in defining key research and policy elements related to the assessment of climate change impacts on the water cycle, quality and resources, as well as in setting the interface between science and policy in this area.

The workshop represents a steep within a process. In this sense, discussions and conclusions of the workshop will be taken as input to with the international symposium “Climate Change and the European Water Dimension” to be held during the German Presidency of the European Union in Berlin in February 2007.
All information of the workshop, including the presentations from speakers, is available at the internet site:
Executive Summary

and Abstracts

Executive Summary

Executive Summary

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