Assessment of Future Impacts of Climate Change, Land Use Change and Water Demand on Freshwater Resources in the Mediterranean Region – A Meta-Analysis
Veronika Zwirglmaier from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) stayed at the ICWRGC from May to November 2019 to write her master’s thesis on “Assessment of Future Impacts of Climate Change, Land Use Change and Water Demand on Freshwater Resources in the Mediterranean Region – A Meta-Analysis”. She successfully defended her thesis at TUM in December 2019.
Freshwater is a vital resource for all forms of life on earth. Thus, it is important to guarantee its sustainable management facing multiple pressures such as climate change, land use change and water demand as well as feedbacks between these drivers. The Mediterranean region is particularly vulnerable to alterations in climate and environment. The goal of this thesis was to assess the future development of the quantity of freshwater resources in the Mediterranean region. It was performed in the scope of the MedECC (Mediterranean Experts on Environmental and Climate Change) initiative.
The assessment is based on 99 recent, individually published simulation results found during a systematic literature review following pre-defined patterns. By performing qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods, a comprehensive statement on the future freshwater situation in the Mediterranean region was made at a basin, country and regional scale under various climate change, land use change and water demand projection scenarios.
Future climate scenarios predicted a general reduction of water quantity for the Mediterranean countries. However, the trend was less pronounced in some regions or even showing an increase. This was particularly noticeable in countries with complex topographies and small-scale climate patterns. In terms of land-use changes, urbanization showed the most dominating effect by revealing an increase in extreme discharges and a decrease in groundwater recharge. Future scenarios forecast an increasing water demand for all countries with available data. Yet, only few studies were available investigating how an adapted water management would impact on water demand and therefore on the overall water availability.
Expanding the performed meta-analysis by further data would increase the robustness of the statements and small-scale analyses would help to better represent the complex situation in topographically diverse countries to ensure a sustainable management of future water resources.