Hydrological and water quality impact assessment of a Mediterranean limno-reservoir under climate change and land use management scenarios

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Water scarcity and water pollution constitute a big challenge for water managers in the Mediterranean region today and will exacerbate in a projected future warmer world, making a holistic approach for water resources management at the catchment scale essential. We expanded the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model developed for a small Mediterranean catchment to quantify the potential effects of various climate and land use change scenarios on catchment hydrology as well as the trophic state of a new kind of waterbody, a limno-reservoir (Pareja Limno-reservoir), created for environmental and recreational purposes. We also checked for the possible synergistic effects of changes in climate and land use on water flow and nutrient exports from the catchment. Simulations showed a noticeable impact of climate change in the river flow regime and consequently the water level of the limno-reservoir, especially during summer, complicating the fulfillment of its purposes. Most of the scenarios also predicted a deterioration of trophic conditions in the limno-reservoir. Fertilization and soil erosion were the main factors affecting nitrate and total phosphorus concentrations. Combined climate and land use change scenarios showed noticeable synergistic effects on nutrients exports, relative to running the scenarios individually. While the impact of fertilization on nitrate export is projected to be reduced with warming in most cases, an additional 13% increase in the total phosphorus export is expected in the worst-case combined scenario compared to the sum of individual scenarios. Our model framework may help water managers to assess and manage how these multiple environmental stressors interact and ultimately affect aquatic ecosystems. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume509
Pages (from-to)354–366
Number of pages13
ISSN0022-1694
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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