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Sensitivity Analysis of Coupled Hydro-Economic Models: Quantifying Climate Change Uncertainty for Decision-Making


The paper assessed the sensitivity of an integrated hydro-economic model, to provide a quantitative range of uncertainty in the impacts of climate change on water balance components and water use in the agricultural sector of Apulia region located in a semi-arid Mediterranean climate area in southern Italy. Results show that the impacts of climate change are expressed in the future by an increase in the net irrigation requirements (NIRs) of all crops. Total cultivated land is reduced by 8.5 % in the future, and the percentage of irrigated land decreases from 31 to 22 % of total agricultural land. Reduction in the irrigated land, together with the variation in the cropping pattern and the adoption of the different irrigation techniques, led to a decrease in water demand for irrigation across the entire region. The sensitivity analysis shows that the groundwater recharge has the lowest correlation to climatic parameters. Results are addressed to the scientific community and decision makers to support the design of adequate adaptation policies for efficient water management under the severe drought conditions that are likely to occur in the region according to climate change projections.

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The authors would like to express their very great appreciation to the French Ministry for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, which funded this research in the framework of the “Climaware” project. They would also like to acknowledge Dr. G. Passarella for his invaluable scientific support and constructive suggestions; Mr. M. Daurù for his technical and modelling assistance and Ms. D. Glasgow and Ms. M. Amoruoso for the proofreading provided.

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Correspondence to Daniel El Chami.

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D’Agostino, D.R., Scardigno, A., Lamaddalena, N. et al. Sensitivity Analysis of Coupled Hydro-Economic Models: Quantifying Climate Change Uncertainty for Decision-Making. Water Resour Manage 28, 4303–4318 (2014).

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  • “Climaware”
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Hydro-economic model
  • Climate change uncertainty
  • Mediterranean
  • Apulia region