Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 119–132 | Cite as

Hydro-economic modeling of water scarcity under global change: an application to the Gállego river basin (Spain)

  • Nina Graveline
  • Bruno Majone
  • Rianne Van Duinen
  • Erik Ansink
Original Article


Integrated approaches are needed to assess the effects of global changes on the future state of water resources at regional scales. We develop a hydro-economic model of the Gállego catchment, Spain, to assess how global change and policy options affect the catchment’s water scarcity and the economic implications to the agricultural sector. The model couples physical processes (hydrology) and regulatory and economic processes (agricultural water demand, reservoir operation). Five scenarios, covering currently ongoing changes in climatic conditions, agriculture and hydrological planning, are evaluated. Our results suggest that the scenarios’ impacts on water resources and regional agricultural income are significant. Policy responses such as investments in modernization of irrigation technology would mitigate the negative impacts of climatic change on the agricultural sector, but the implementation costs outweigh the extra regional agricultural income. Also, a planned reservoir extension project appears ineffective, even considering effects of climatic change. Although our results are site-specific, our methodology is relevant to other areas that face comparable problems of water scarcity.


Hydro-economic modeling Irrigated agriculture Hydrology Climatic change Spain 



We acknowledge financial support by the European Union FP6 Integrated Project Aquaterra (project No. GOCE 505428). We would like to thank two anonymous referees and the associate editor for their comments. We express special thanks to José Albiac and Jesus Causapé from CITA in Zaragoza for their support in the field as well as for interesting discussions. We also thank the Confederación Hidrográfica del Ebro and in particular Miguel Angel Garcia Vera, and the Comunidad de regantes del Alto Aragon for data provision. We thank the Integrator subproject partners and particularly Benoit Grandmougin and Pierre Strosser from ACTeon and Emmanuelle Petelet from BRGM. We thank Stephen Blenkinsop, Isabella Bovolo and Hayley Fowler from the University of Newcastle for their precious comments on the climatic change simulations.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina Graveline
    • 1
  • Bruno Majone
    • 2
  • Rianne Van Duinen
    • 3
  • Erik Ansink
    • 4
  1. 1.BRGM (French Geological Survey)MontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly
  3. 3.DeltaresUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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