On the frequency and severity of droughts under climate change in the Iberian Peninsula.

16:15 Wednesday 29 May


Room S10


Rodrigo Proença De Oliveira (Portugal) 1; Joana Simões (Portugal) 2; Melissa Nogueira (Brazil) 1

1 - Instituto Superior Técnico - Universidade de Lisboa; 2 - Bluefocus

The Mediterranean climate is characterized by a highly interannual and seasonal variability of both precipitation and streamflow. Consequently, water resources planning and management in southern Europe, and particularly in the Iberian Peninsula, is conditioned by recurrent long periods of droughts, which will be further aggravated by climate change.

The communication presents an assessment of the impacts of climate change on the frequency and severity of droughts in the Iberian Peninsula, particularly in the transboundary river basins of Minho and Lima, Douro, Tagus and Guadiana. The assessment is based on the precipitation projections put forward by the CORDEX-Europe downscaling exercise and by an extensive hydrological modelling effort. A set of drought indicators computed from both the precipitation and flow records show that the frequency, duration and intensity of droughts will increase under the different climate scenarios.

The presentation also discusses the impacts of these projections on agriculture and electricity production, two activities that use large amounts of water in the Iberian Peninsula. The role of the large reservoirs existing in the region that may partially attenuate the impacts of these projections is also discussed, based on an assessment on the ability storage reservoirs can effectively attenuate the impacts of climate change. The need to review reservoir operating rules is emphasized.