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Changes in the balance between water uses and availability in two Mediterranean hydrosystems : adaptation to climatic and anthropogenic changes

Abstract : This thesis proposes an original approach to assess multi-decadal changes in the balance between water use and availability in managed river basins. A modeling framework integrating human and hydro-climatic dynamics and accounting for linkages between resource and demand was developed and applied in two basins of different scales and with contrasted water uses: the Herault (2500 km2, France) and the Ebro (85000 km2, Spain) basins. Natural streamflow was evaluated using a conceptual hydrological model, and a demand-driven reservoir management model was designed to account for streamflow regulations from the main dams. Urban, industrial and agricultural water demands were estimated from socio-economic and agronomic and climatic drivers. Environmental flows were accounted for by defining streamflow thresholds under which water withdrawals were strictly limited. This framework was successfully calibrated and validated under non-stationary human and hydro-climatic conditions over a past period of 40 years before being applied under four combinations of climatic and water use scenarios to differentiate the impacts of climate- and human-induced changes on streamflow and water balance. Climate simulations from the CMIP5 exercise were used to generate 18 climate scenarios at the 2050 horizon and a trend water use scenario was built based on demographic and local socio-economic trends by the mid-21textsuperscript{st}century. Indicators comparing water supply to demand were computed. The impact of the tested climate projections on both water availability and demand could question the water allocations and environmental requirements currently planned for the coming decades. Water shortages for human use could become more frequent and intense, and the pressure on water resources and aquatic ecosystems could intensify. To assess the efficiency of potential adaptation measures under climate change scenarios, the sensitivity of water stress to variations in the main drivers of water demand and dam management was tested. The effectiveness and robustness of individual measures varied between the basins and within each basin. Finally an adaptation scenario combining different measures was tested in both basins, using the integrative modeling framework. This scenario led to encouraging results regarding the decrease of water stress. However, the adaptation strategies were shown to be insufficiently robust to climate change uncertainties. To achieve a sustainable balance between water availability and demand and reduce the vulnerability of water uses to climate change, a complementarity needs to be found between basin-scale studies of the water balance, such as the ones conducted in this thesis, and local assessments of vulnerability and adaptive capacity.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 12:04:35 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01661438, version 1



Julie Fabre. Changes in the balance between water uses and availability in two Mediterranean hydrosystems : adaptation to climatic and anthropogenic changes. Hydrology. Université Montpellier, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015MONTS086⟩. ⟨tel-01661438⟩



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