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Open AccessArticle

Blue Water in Europe: Estimates of Current and Future Availability and Analysis of Uncertainty

Department of Civil Engineering: Hydraulics, Energy and Environment, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid 28040, Spain
Department of Agricultural Economics & CEIGRAM, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid 28040, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(3), 420;
Received: 29 December 2018 / Revised: 19 February 2019 / Accepted: 21 February 2019 / Published: 26 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Resources Management Models for Policy Assessment)
PDF [7640 KB, uploaded 26 February 2019]


This study presents a regional assessment of future blue water availability in Europe under different assumptions. The baseline period (1960 to 1999) is compared to the near future (2020 to 2059) and the long-term future (2060 to 2099). Blue water availability is estimated as the maximum amount of water supplied at a certain point of the river network that satisfies a defined demand, taking into account specified reliability requirements. Water availability is computed with the geospatial high-resolution Water Availability and Adaptation Policy Assessment (WAAPA) model. The WAAPA model definition for this study extends over 6 million km2 in Europe and considers almost 4000 sub-basins in Europe. The model takes into account 2300 reservoirs larger than 5 hm3, and the dataset of Hydro 1k with 1700 sub-basins. Hydrological scenarios for this study were taken from the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Inter-Comparison Project and included simulations of five global climate models under different Representative Concentration Pathways scenarios. The choice of method is useful for evaluating large area regional studies that include high resolution on the systems´ characterization. The results highlight large uncertainties associated with a set of local water availability estimates across Europe. Climate model uncertainties for mean annual runoff and potential water availability were found to be higher than scenario uncertainties. Furthermore, the existing hydraulic infrastructure and its management have played an important role by decoupling water availability from hydrologic variability. This is observed for all climate models, the emissions scenarios considered, and for near and long-term future. The balance between water availability and withdrawals is threatened in some regions, such as the Mediterranean region. The results of this study contribute to defining potential challenges in water resource systems and regional risk areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; water resources; water availability; uncertainty; WAAPA model; Western Europe climate change; water resources; water availability; uncertainty; WAAPA model; Western Europe

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Sordo-Ward, A.; Granados, I.; Iglesias, A.; Garrote, L. Blue Water in Europe: Estimates of Current and Future Availability and Analysis of Uncertainty. Water 2019, 11, 420.

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