Programme  OS1c Europe and North America  abstract 868

The future of Europe’s freshwaters – perspective up to 2030

Author(s): Ilona Bärlund, Martina Flörke, Joseph Alcamo, Christof Schneider, Kasper Kok, Juha Kämäri
Ilona Bärlund1, Martina Flörke1, Joseph Alcamo1, Christof Schneider1, Kasper Kok2 and Juha Kämäri3 1 Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR), University of Kassel, Kurt-Wolters-Strasse 3, D-34125 Kassel, Germany, tel. +495618043903, fax. +495618043176, 2 Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands 3 Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland

Keyword(s): scenarios, water availability, water use, Europe

Article: abs868_article.pdf
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Session: OS1c Europe and North America
AbstractFirst results are now available

from a new pan-European (23 research institutes) study of the future of water resources in Europe. SCENES is a 4

-year EU project (2006-2010) developing and analysing a set of comprehensive scenarios of Europe’s freshwater

futures, covering "pan-Europe" including the Caucasus region, North African countries, and parts of the Middle East.

The first phase of the project is a "fast track" scenario exercise based mostly on information from existing

scenarios. Specifically, SCENES is using the scenarios developed under UNEP's Fourth Global Environment

Outlook (GEO-4). The objective of this phase is to provide numerical estimates of the response of Europe's waters

to the driving forces specified in the storylines of the GEO-4 scenarios. In particular, researchers are identifying the

regions in Europe with rapidly changing water withdrawals and possible water shortages under the various scenarios.

The GEO-4 scenarios were selected because they are region-specific and current (released in October 2007).

The numerical estimates of the GEO-4 scenarios are produced by the WaterGAP model (Water – Global

Assessment and Prognosis). Most calculations are performed on a 0.5°x0.5° grid and then aggregated to the river

basin scale. The overall approach of the scenario analysis in SCENES is based on the Story-and-Simulation

Approach (SAS). This method involves the development of narrative storylines during a series of stakeholder

workshops in which the WaterGAP results will be used as one source of information to describe the present state

and possible future development of water resources in Europe.

Preliminary results are available from the fast

track scenarios up to 2030. Under the climate change assumptions of the GEO-4 scenarios, only a small change is

computed in water availability in Central Europe up to 2030. However, this result masks significant seasonal

changes: a 5 to 25% increase (depending on location) is computed for the winter season and 5 to 25% decrease for

the summer season. These are results for the Security First scenario, but other scenarios show similar results because

of their comparable estimates of climate change up to 2030.

Although they show a similar impact of climate

change, the scenarios differ greatly in their estimates of future water withdrawals in Europe. According to a scenario

assuming a strengthening of water-saving actions (Sustainability First), water withdrawals may decline by more than

50% in Central and Northern Europe. Even under a scenario (Security First) without major water-saving actions,

water withdrawals decrease by 25 to 50% in Western Europe, parts of the Baltic countries and Scandinavia because

of the saturation of water demand in the household sector, and because of expected improvements in the efficiency

of water use in all economic sectors.

Preliminary results already show that annual average indicators are

inadequate in describing the future of water resources in Europe. The focus of scenario studies should be on changes

expected in seasonal indicators, for example, on the availability of water during the summer season versus winter

season. These and other challenges remain to be met in the comprehensive scenario exercise of the SCENES


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