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An integrated Hydrological Model for Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources of the Upper Po River Basin

Abstract

Climate change can have profound impacts on water availability. In order to assess the impacts on water resources in complex Alpine river basins, an integrated model that can simulate mutual interactions between natural hydrological processes and anthropogenic disturbances is required. The objective of this study is to show the potential of such an integrated approach in quantifying the impacts of climate change on water resources availability in the Upper Po river basin in Italy. Results show that in the time slice 2041–2050 summer river discharge is expected to decrease with respect to 2001–2010, due to a substantial decrease of seasonal precipitation and an accelerated snow melt that causes an earlier snow depletion. Glaciers volume is expected to decrease to half the current value in 2025, while the minimum elevation of the lowest point of the glaciers is expected to increase from 1890 m asl to about 2850 m asl. It is shown that this change can affect regulation of large artificial reservoirs at higher elevation that are mainly dependent on glacier melt for their supply. Increase of annual precipitation is expected to increase groundwater detention that can be used as supplement to diminished river discharge during summer.

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Acknowledgments

The work was supported in the framework of the ACQWA EU/FP7 project (grant number 212250) “Assessing Climate impacts on the Quantity and quality of Water”. Consorzio Ticino is acknowledged for providing record of daily net inflow to the Lake Verbano. The authors thank Chiara Dionisio and Rossana Zanchi for the contribution in data elaboration, and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments that contributed to improve the paper.

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Correspondence to Giovanni Ravazzani.

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Ravazzani, G., Barbero, S., Salandin, A. et al. An integrated Hydrological Model for Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources of the Upper Po River Basin. Water Resour Manage 29, 1193–1215 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-014-0868-8

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Hydrological impact
  • Integrated model