Climate change adaptation options for the European water sector

16:15 Tuesday 28 May


Room S7


David Samuel Williams (Germany) 1; Dmitry Kovalevsky (Germany) 1; Maria Manez Costa (Germany) 1; Bastian Klein (Germany) 2; Dennis Meißner (Germany) 2; Joaquin Andreu (Spain) 3; Hector Marcian-Sorribes (Spain) 3; Manuel Pulido- Velazquez (Spain) 3; Abel Solera (Spain) 3; Sara Suárez-Almiñana (Spain) 3; Marco Hartman (Netherlands) 4

1 - Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht; 2 - Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde (BfG); 3 - Universitat Politécnica de Valencia (UPV); 4 - HKV Lijn in Water BV (HKV)

Anthropogenic forcing of the climate system is expected to severely affect the hydrological cycle, increasing both the risk of floods and droughts. The European water sector, in many regions already severely impacted by hydrological extremes, is highly sensitive to an intensification in frequency and intensity of floods and droughts. Improving the management of climate risk is therefore critical, and could significantly strengthen the ability of the European water sector to respond to and recover from hydrological extreme events.

The IMPREX (IMproving PRedictions and management of hydrological EXtremes) project aims to enhance risk management by improving and tailoring climate forecasts to the specific stakeholder needs, with the aim of making climate information more usable for decision-makers and policy planners in the European water sector. However, until now, it is unclear where in the decision-making and policy planning process improvements in the provision of climate information could have a positive impact. To better understand the integration of climate information into decision-making and policy planning systems, more research needs to be focused around how climate change adaptation is actually implemented, and where in the climate adaptation cycle more usable climate information could lead to an improvement in the ability to prioritize between climate adaptation options.

This paper will explore this issue by discussing the impact of improved and tailored forecasting on potential adaptation options in two case studies, one focused around water supply in the Júcar River basin in south-east Spain, and the other dealing with inland waterway transport in the Rhine River basin in central Germany and the Netherlands. We will also reflect on the relevance of improved forecasting capabilities for the EU climate adaptation cycle, elucidating the potential benefit for decision-makers and policy planners in prioritising between adaptation options. Finally, we argue that the choice of adaptation option invariably depends on the capacity of local governance to implement climate change adaptation measures. Therefore, a discussion will be focused around the idea of how to consider the capacity of local governance to implement climate change adaptation options in prioritisation tools. We hope this discussion will make a contribution to ensuring that improved climate information could lead to better decisions in the context of prioritising between climate adaptation options in the European water sector.