European scale climate information services for water use sectors

M.T.H. van Vliet, Chantal Donnelly, Lena Strömbäck, René Capell, Fulco Ludwig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This study demonstrates a climate information service for pan-European water use sectors that are vulnerable to climate change induced hydrological changes, including risk and safety (disaster preparedness), agriculture, energy (hydropower and cooling water use for thermoelectric power) and environment (water quality). To study the climate change impacts we used two different hydrological models forced with an ensemble of bias-corrected general circulation model (GCM) output for both the lowest (2.6) and highest (8.5) representative concentration pathways (RCP). Selected indicators of water related vulnerability for each sector were then calculated from the hydrological model results. Our results show a distinct north-south divide in terms of climate change impacts; in the south the water availability will reduce while in the north water availability will increase. Across different climate models precipitation and streamflow increase in northern Europe and decrease in southern Europe, but the latitude at which this change occurs varies depending on the GCM. Hydrological extremes are increasing over large parts of Europe. The agricultural sector will be affected by reduced water availability (in the south) and increased drought. Both streamflow and soil moistures droughts are projected to increase in most parts of Europe except in northern Scandinavia and the Alps. The energy sector will be affected by lower hydropower potential in most European countries and reduced cooling water availability due to higher water temperatures and reduced summer river flows. Our results show that in particular in the Mediterranean the pressures are high because of increasing drought which will have large impacts on both the agriculture and energy sectors. In France and Italy this is combined with increased flood hazards. Our results show important impacts of climate change on European water use sectors indicating a clear need for adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-513
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Climate change
  • E-Hype
  • Flood
  • Hydropower
  • VIC


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