Climate change impact assessment on mountain water resources: a System Dynamics approach supporting multi-risk management and adaptation planning
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Mountain environments are facing important impacts due to climate change and human activities. Shifts of temperature and precipitation are affecting the amount of available water in mountain environments, especially decreasing snow and glaciers resources. Tourist activities, hydropower and agricultural production in the Alps usually rely on unsustainable use of water. Moreover, there is a need to understand the future impacts of climate change on water resources to design and implement risk management and adaptation strategies. System dynamics modelling (SDM) combines biophysical and socio-economic variables allowing an explicit representation of their complex interactions and dependencies. A conceptual framework has been developed, encompassing climatic and anthropogenic drivers of impact on water availability as well as factors influencing socio-economic water demand from the strategic sectors of mountain regions (e.g. hydropower production, agriculture and tourism activities). This framework will be translated into a quantitative SDM model and applied to the Noce river within the Province of Trento (Italy), where concerns about water scarcity is rapidly increasing due to recent events of low winter snow precipitation and intensive spring-summer consumptions. The model will integrate Euro-Cordex climate and land use scenarios to simulate future conditions of water availability, as well as water consumption data from touristic activities, hydropower and agricultural use, providing information on the current and future water demand. Results will shed light on mountain system’s resilience to water scarcity and future multiple impacts across different socio-economic sectors. Finally, SDM will foster the understanding of the dynamics involved in the mountain water management, describing the emergent behaviour coming from variables interactions. By doing so, it would be possible to prioritize strategies that enhance system’s resilience for improved water efficiency, water storage and emergency measures across different sectors for climate change adaptation.
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