Assessing the climate change adaptability of sustainable land management practices regarding water availability and quality: A case study in the Sorraia catchment, Portugal

Esther van der Laan*, João Pedro Nunes, Luís Filipe Dias, Sílvia Carvalho, Franciane Mendonça dos Santos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In Mediterranean catchments, such as the Sorraia catchment in Portugal, it is expected that climate change will increase drought stress and the deterioration of water quality in reservoirs. Sustainable land management (SLM) practices are seen as an adaption measure for those problems, but the effectiveness on improving climate change impacted water availability and quality on catchment scale is still poorly understood. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of SLM practices in adapting the impacts of climate change on water availability and quality of the Montargil and Maranhão reservoirs in the Sorraia catchment. A well-calibrated Soil Water Assessment Tool model is used to simulate four scenarios (2041–2071 and 2071–2100; representative climate pathways 4.5 and 8.5), to investigate the effects of climate change on total phosphorus load (TP) in streams, reservoir volume, irrigation use and water exploitation index (WEI). Results showed that WEI will not exceed any water stress level while reservoir water quality will worsen. In particular since the TP load in streams flowing into the reservoirs increases and the volume decreases, it is likely that the existing P limitation for eutrophication will be counteracted. Nevertheless, tested SLM practices were able to decrease the TP load in those streams and increase the reservoir volume under future climates. Overall, this study shows that the SLM practices are effective in adapting to the climate change effects regarding reservoir water quality, without worsening the water availability; thus, it is a promising tool that should be investigated further for application by e.g. local land-users and decision makers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number165438
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume897
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Hydrological systems
  • Mediterranean catchments
  • Sustainable land management
  • Water availability and quality

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