Water Resources Management

, Volume 31, Issue 11, pp 3355–3370 | Cite as

Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources and Reservoir Management: Uncertainty and Adaptation for a Mountain Catchment in Northeast Portugal

  • Claudia Carvalho-Santos
  • António T. Monteiro
  • João C. Azevedo
  • João Pradinho Honrado
  • João Pedro Nunes


Reservoirs often play an important role in mitigating water supply problems. However, the implications of climate change are not always considered in reservoir planning and management. This study aimed to address this challenge in the Alto Sabor watershed, northeast Portugal. The study analysed whether or not the shortage of water supply can be effectively addressed through the construction of a new reservoir (two-reservoir system) by considering future climate projections. The hydrological model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was calibrated and validated against daily-observed discharge and reservoir volume, with a good agreement between model predictions and observations. Outputs from four General Circulation Models (GCM) for two scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5) were statistically downscaled and bias-corrected with ground observations. A general increase in temperature is expected in the future while the change in precipitation is more uncertain as per the differences among climatic models. In general, annual precipitation would slightly decrease while seasonal changes would be more significant, with more precipitation in winter and much less in spring and summer. SWAT simulations suggest that the existence of two-reservoir will better solve the water supply problems under current climate conditions compared to a single-reservoir system. However in the future, the reliability of this solution will decrease, especially due to the variability of projections from the different climatic models. The solution to water supply problems in this region, adopted taking only present-day climate into account, will likely be inefficient for water supply management under future climate conditions.


Alto Sabor watershed Climate change SWAT model Reservoir management RCP scenarios Water supply 



This work was funded by FEDER funds through the Operational Programme for Competitiveness Factors - COMPETE and by National Funds through FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology under the project PTDC/AAG-MAA/4539/2012 / FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-027863 (IND_CHANGE). J.P. Nunes was financially supported by FCT (Portuguese Science Foundation), and the European Social Fund through post-doctoral grant (SFRH/BPD/87571/2012). A.T. Monteiro is supported by FEDER funds through the Operational Programme for Competitiveness Factors - COMPETE and by National Funds through FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology under the UID/BIA/50027/2013 and POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006821. The authors would like to thank the Municipality of Bragança for the datasets on water inflows.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CESAM – Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar & Dept. de Ambiente e PlaneamentoUniversidade de AveiroAveiroPortugal
  2. 2.CIBIO/InBio - Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos GenéticosUniversidade do PortoVila do CondePortugal
  3. 3.CIMO - Centro de Investigação de Montanha & Departamento de Ambiente e Recursos NaturaisInstituto Politécnico de BragançaBragançaPortugal
  4. 4.Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  5. 5.CE3C – Centro de Ecologia, Evolução Alterações Climáticas, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal

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