Optimal Implementation of Climate Change Adaptation Measures to Ensure Long-term Sustainability on Large Irrigation Systems

David Haro Monteagudo* (Corresponding Author), Leticia Palazón, Christos Zoumides, Santiago Beguería

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Observed and projected consequences of climate change on streamflow generated in the Pyrenees threatens the long-term sustainability of water resources systems downstream, especially those with high irrigation demands. To tackle this challenge, the participation of stakeholders in defining potential adaptation strategies is crucial to building awareness and capacity for the community, providing agreed solutions, and reducing conflict. However, there is also a need for a top-down approach to incorporate other, large-scale, or innovative adaptation strategies. This article describes a bottom-up-meets-top-down approach to estimate the optimal implementation intensity of adaptation strategies under different climate scenarios on a complex water resources system. Future streamflow projections were used in a water allocation model combined with a Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling process to obtain optimal combinations of measures to meet different sustainability objectives. The methodology was applied to the Gállego-Cinca River system in NE Spain, which relies on water from the Pyrenees. A stakeholder workshop identified storage development and irrigation modernisation as the preferred adaptation options. However, the modelling results show that more storage in the basin, especially on-farm reservoirs, is not enough to maintain current sustainability levels. This will enable the adoption of demand management measures that optimise water use despite not being among stakeholder preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2909-2924
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number8
Early online date4 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors acknowledge Confederación Hidrográfica del Ebro and Comunidad General de Riegos del Alto Aragón for data and model building support.
The following projects provided funding for this research: EFA210/16/PIRAGUA and EFA346/19/ADAPYR co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg V Spain-France-Andorre Programme (POCTEFA 2014–2020) of the European Union, INNOMED co-funded by the Agencia Estatal de Investigación of Spain in the framework of the ERA-NET WaterWorks2015 co-funded Call (project INNOMED). This ERA-NET is an integral part of the 2016 Joint Activities developed by the Water Challenges for a Changing World Joint Programme Initiative (Water JPI) as a result of a joint collaborative effort with the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE JPI). Also, this work was supported by Fundación Biodiversidad of the Spanish Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica.

Data Availability Statement

The data supporting the conclusions of this work can be found in the following sources: AEMET climate projections are available at http://www.aemet.es/es/serviciosclimaticos/cambio_climat/datos_diarios. Modelling results are available at https://github.com/dharomonteagudo/Haro_et_al_Adaptation. SWAT and AQUATOOL models are available upon request to the corresponding author.


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