Reports, conference papers and book chapters (co-)authored by ICWRGC staff members or (co-) edited by the ICWRGC.
The role of academia in communicating environmental conflicts
The world is witnessing an increase in environmental conflicts (ECs) caused by the overexploitation and pollution of natural resources. In this paper, a multidisciplinary group of researchers (including dr. Luna Bharati) critically explored the role of academia in co-producing knowledge on the complexities of environmental conflicts. The publication highlights why inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to understanding multifaceted environmental conflicts are important and which day-to-day challenges academic researchers face when applying them.
Aviles, D., Mora Motta, A., Pereira, A., Bharati, L., Biber-Freundenberger, L., Ptersheim, C. Quispe-Zuniga, MR., Schmitt, CB., Youkhana, E. (2022) Integrating scientific and local knowledge to address environmental conflicts: the role of academia. Human Ecology 50(4). DOI: 10.1007/s10745-022-00344-2
Climate and Environmental Change in the Mediterranean Basin – Current Situation and Risks for the Future
On 17 November 2020, the First Mediterranean Assessment Report from the “Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change” was posted online. The report titled “Climate and Environmental Change in the Mediterranean Basin – Current Situation and Risks for the Future” has been established by 190 scientists from 25 countries. ICWRGC’s Dr. Marianela Fader is one of the Coordinating Lead Authors of the chapter “Water”. A brief version of the full report is available as a so-called “Summary for Policy Makers” (SPM).
In the water sector, less precipitation and surface runoff, higher evaporation and an increasing need for irrigation as well as more frequent droughts and user conflicts are to be expected. Climate warming and less rainfall reduce groundwater recharge and deteriorate its quality in coastal zones owing to saltwater intrusion, sea level rise and human overexploitation.
Internship work: The Importance of Cooperation Between Transboundary River Countries
Internship work: The Importance of Cooperation Between Transboundary River Countries – 2019
This work was composed during an internship at the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (ICWRGC), during a span of 3 months, from May to August in 2019. Taking up the publication from Molnar, Kata, et al. (2017), this internship work focuses on cooperation between countries. It points out the importance of cooperation especially within transboundary river countries using the Nile and the Rhine River as examples where cooperation has developed over time.
Special Issue on ERB 2018 International Conference in Publication
The Special Issue in the journal “Advances of Geosciences” has been produced as a follow-up to the 17th Biennial Conference ERB 2018. It contains contributions summarising conference presentations, edited by B. Schmalz (TU Darmstadt), S. Dietrich (ICWRGC), and J. L. M. P. de Lima (University of Coimbra).
The ERB 2018 international conference on “Innovative monitoring techniques and modelling approaches for analysing hydrological processes in small basins” was held in Darmstadt, Germany, 11–14 September 2018. It was attended by scientists from 19 different countries.
MedECC booklet publishedA booklet by the MedECC initiative with information on climate change in the Mediterranean region and its impacts on water, food security, ecosystems, human security and health was published in December 2018 …
Progress on Ambient Water Quality – Piloting the monitoring methodology and initial findings for SDG indicator 6.3.2
This report is part of a series of progress reports under the UN-Water Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 that reviews the global progress made towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was launched by UN Environment during World Water Week 2018 in Stockholm and is based on country data, compiled and verified by the responsible United Nations organisations, and sometimes complemented by data from other sources.
The ICWRGC contributed to the report as implementing partner for SDG Indicator 6.3.2 (“Good Ambient Water Quality”) in the framework of the GEMS/Water programme (UN Environment).
Peer-reviewed journal articles (co)-authored by ICWRGC staff members.
Trends in climate disaster impacts in a least developed country
Dr. Luna Bharati co-authored a paper that assesses the spatiotemporal trends of multiple types of climatic disasters with respect to the related mortality and vulnerability and their attribution to climatic and socioeconomic factors in a least developed country, Nepal. The impacts of climatic disasters, such as human mortality, have been rising globally, but the causes of the rise remain unclear. In this study, the authors found that the disaster frequency and mortality have increased, but the vulnerability has decreased. The findings imply that the strong increase in disaster frequency, potentially due to climate change, has overpowered the effect of reduced vulnerability and caused an increase in disaster mortality.
Chapagain, D., Bharati, L., & Borgemeister, C. (2022). Declining vulnerability but rising impacts: the trends of climatic disasters in Nepal. Regional Environmental Change, 22(2), 55.
Case study on the implementation of Sustainable Drainage Systems
Dr. Luna Bharati is co-author to a paper that discusses the factors that hinder and promote implementation of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) in Bogotá, considering the perspectives of the public sector, private sector, urban developers, and community members living in a flood-prone area. After identifying and categorizing 39 barriers, the authors found that technical barriers continue to have a significant impact on SUDS adoption. The evaluation of benefits yielded 34 results, demonstrating the broad scope of SUDS at a social, economic, and environmental level.
Ortega, A. D., Rodríguez, J. P., & Bharati, L. (2023). Building flood-resilient cities by promoting SUDS adoption: A multi-sector analysis of barriers and benefits in Bogotá, Colombia. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 88 (February), 103621.
Multiple-cropping and cropland expansion in Brazil influence water productivity
Dr. Marianela Fader from ICWRGC collaborated with another group of authors to demonstrate that multiple-cropping and cropland expansion in Brazil do not only affect agricultural yields but also water productivity.
See the article under
“The effects of cropping intensity and cropland expansion of Brazilian soybean production on green water flows”
What ecologists should know before using land-use/cover change projections for biodiversity and ecosystem service assessments
Water is not only rain, rivers and lakes. Water is fundamentally related to the landscape, food production, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Dr. Marianela Fader from ICWRGC collaborated with French researchers to give ecologists guidance on using land-use and land-cover change scenarios to generate biodiversity and ecosystem services scenarios.
See the article under
“What ecologists should know before using land-use/cover change projections for biodiversity and ecosystem service assessments”
Global groundwater models: new endeavour for hydrologists facing multiple challenges
In a new publication “Importance of Spatial Resolution on Global Groundwater Modelling” by Reinecke et al. in a special issue of Groundwater, the authors explore the difficulties in modelling groundwater on a global scale. Global gradient-based groundwater models are a new endeavour for hydrologists wishing to improve global hydrological models. In particular, the integration of such groundwater models enhances the simulation of exchange flows with surface water bodies and enables the implementation of capillary rise. However, these models face multiple obstacles due to their coarse spatial resolution. The study concludes that a new understanding is required on how these models can be evaluated, and that merely increasing the spatial resolution is not an elixir to improving the simulation of the global freshwater system.
Toward an Understanding of Synergies and Trade-Offs between Water, Energy, and Food SDG Targets
is the title of a publication by Dr. Marianela Fader, Colleen Cranmer, Richard Lawford and Jill Engel-Cox.
Achieving the SDG targets will require committed efforts by nations and organizations over the coming decade. To determine the best compatible actions within funding, infrastructure development, and implementation of three closely aligned goals, the greatest synergies where investigated as well as conflicting resource needs creating trade-offs possibly threatening SDG success. The SDGs each have several targets that need to be realized to reach the goal. A methodology was designed to analyse each target of SDG 2 (food), 6 (water), and 7 (energy). The targets were compared pairwise and total interaction was calculated to determine different levels of synergies and trade-offs for every pair. It was concluded that achieving the water targets will make it continuously easier to achieve other targets. While the results may require adaptation to a specific locality or country, they provide an improved understanding of the interactions between the targets. The value of the study lies in the quantitative methodology as it can be used as a replicable analysis for any level of work on SDG implementation.
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.
If you are interested in reading the entire pdf of the master thesis, you may contact .
Uncertainty Quantification Framework for Nutrient Load Estimation
Bruno Bezerra Bluhm from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) stayed at the ICWRGC from 13 May – 12 November 2019 to write his master’s thesis on the topic “Uncertainty Quantification Framework for Nutrient Load Estimation”. He successfully defended his thesis at TUM on 5 December 2019.
Nutrient loads, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, are a key indicator of water quality monitoring, management and assessment, particularly regarding eutrophication. Although flow data is commonly available in continuous forms, monitoring programs often sample concentration following low-frequency policies, which hinders flux calculations. This consequently limits purposes of load estimations, since, in order for the metric to be used in evaluations, its uncertainty must be within an expected threshold. This Master’s thesis conceives an uncertainty quantification framework to be used by an existing load estimation algorithm from GEMStat. The framework calculates expected errors by matching a target station, i.e. scarce data, and a reference station, i.e. continuous data. Brazil, a major GEMStat partner, has been selected as a case study to define the target station baseline. By performing Monte Carlo Simulations and credibility-based assessments, the framework evaluates which estimation algorithm is most suitable and what are the expected levels of uncertainty, given in three forms: credible interval, relative absolute error, and classification (under or overestimation). Expanding the current database to include a greater range of reference stations is the main challenge to improve the framework’s usability in the future.
If you are interested in reading the entire pdf of the master thesis, you may contact Mr. Bluhm at:
Observed Impact on Water Resources in the Mediterranean Region: A Meta-Analysis
Mihir Rambhia from TUM stayed at the ICWRGC from 07.11.2018–06.05.2019 to write his master thesis dealing with the “Observed Impact on Water Resources in the Mediterranean Region: A Meta-Analysis”. He successfully completed this thesis in May 2019.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recognized the Mediterranean region as the major ’hot-spot of climate change’. This, along with other anthropogenic drivers such as land use change and the change in water demand, is expected to significantly alter the average availability of freshwater resources in the region. This study uses a meta-analysis approach to identify the impact of these drivers on the observed quantitative change and trends in the water resources of the 22 countries bordering on the Mediterranean. In total, 125 studies were included in the meta-analysis covering climatic parameters (temperature), hydrological parameters (precipitation, evapotranspiration, and streamflow), and event parameters (droughts). For all the parameters except temperature, a highly heterogeneous spatial and temporal pattern has been observed within the countries. A decreasing precipitation trend in the Mediterranean is also in contradiction with globally increasing wetter conditions. Overall, it has been observed that with an increase in mean temperature and evaporation, and a decrease in precipitation and runoff, the climate in the Mediterranean region has become drier and warmer over the study period. However, the attribution of the observed changes could not be entirely implemented based on the selected drivers, due to a lack of such reporting in the primary studies.
If you are interested in reading the entire pdf of the master thesis, you may contact Mihir at:
D. Kolesch – Master’s student from the Technical University of Munich
Dominik Kolesch from TUM stayed from 05.03. – 04.09.2018 at the ICWRGC to write his master thesis dealing with “Derivation of a Meta-Indicator for Water Quality by Comparison of Existing Water Quality Indicators and Indices with GEMStat Data”. He successfully completed this thesis in October 2018.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has shown that better protection of freshwater biodiversity and the health of aquatic life is imperative. SDG 6.3.2 demands an index to describe water quality in terms of ecological health. This study uses a new approach to a meta indicator for describing riverine water quality, resulting in 3 parameter sets for water quality measuring. The index has been applied in 2 rivers, Rio Tietê (Brazil) and Ebro (Spain). The chosen CCME Water Quality Index (WQI) was tested against existing applications of WQIs in the researched regions.
Indexing is an efficient tool of displaying complex data in an aggregated form. The goal of the study was to describe water quality in rivers. The real challenge is to tackle the whole river health. In the future, with some improvements based on the present approach, a new subindex for water quality will be developed and add a more precise piece to the puzzle.
If you are interested in reading the entire pdf of the master thesis, you may contact Dominik: