Freshwater vulnerability under high end climate change. A pan-European assessment
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As freshwater availability is crucial for securing a sustainable, lower‑carbon future, there is a critical connection between water management and climate policies. Under a rapidly changing climate, it is more important than ever to estimate the degree of future water security. This is a challenging task as it depends on many different variables: the degree of warming and its consequent effects on hydrological resources, the water demand by different sectors, and the possible ameliorations or deteriorations of the effects due to climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. A simple and transparent conceptual framework has been developed to assess the European vulnerability to freshwater stress under the present hydro-climatic and socioeconomic conditions, in comparison to projections of future vulnerability for different degrees of global warming (1.5°C, 2°C and 4°C), under the high-rate warming scenario (RCP8.5). Different levels of adaptation to climate change are considered in the framework, by employing various relevant pathways of socioeconomic development. A spatially detailed pan-European map of vulnerability to freshwater shortage has been developed at the local administrative level, making this approach extremely useful for supporting regional level policymaking and implementation and strategic planning against future freshwater stress.
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