Integrated regional modelling and scenario development to evaluate future water demand under global change conditions

  • Anja SobollEmail author
  • Michael Elbers
  • Roland Barthel
  • Juergen Schmude
  • Andreas Ernst
  • Ralf Ziller
Original Article


Within climate change impact research, the consideration of socioeconomic processes remains a challenge. Socioeconomic systems must be equipped to react and adapt to global change. However, any reasonable development or assessment of sustainable adaptation strategies requires a comprehensive consideration of human-environment interactions. This requirement can be met through multi-agent simulation, as demonstrated in the interdisciplinary project GLOWA-Danube (GLObal change of the WAter Cycle; GLOWA-Danube has developed an integrated decision support tool for water and land use management in the Upper Danube catchment (parts of Germany and Austria, 77,000 km2). The scientific disciplines invoked in the project have implemented sixteen natural and social science models, which are embedded in the simulation framework DANUBIA. Within DANUBIA, a multi-agent simulation approach is used to represent relevant socioeconomic processes. The structure and results of three of these multi-agent models, WaterSupply, Household and Tourism, are presented in this paper. A main focus of the paper is on the development of global change scenarios (climate and society) and their application to the presented models. The results of different simulation runs demonstrate the potential of multi-agent models to represent feedbacks between different water users and the environment. Moreover, the interactive usage of the framework allows to define and vary scenario assumptions so as to assess the impact of potential interventions. It is shown that integrated modelling and scenario design not only provide valuable information, but also offer a platform for discussing complex human-environment-interactions with stakeholders.


Multi-agent simulation Global change Regional modelling Integrated water resources management Water users Domestic water demand Tourism Interdisciplinary framework approach 



The authors acknowledge the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for financial support. We would like to thank the governmental organisations, private companies and others who supported our work by providing data, advice or additional assistance. Furthermore, we are much obliged to our GLOWA-Danube colleagues for their helpful cooperation over the last few years. Special thanks are due to the anonymous reviewers who provided valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anja Soboll
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael Elbers
    • 2
  • Roland Barthel
    • 3
  • Juergen Schmude
    • 1
  • Andreas Ernst
    • 2
  • Ralf Ziller
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.Center for Environmental Systems ResearchUniversity of KasselKasselGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Hydraulic EngineeringUniversity of StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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