Simulating the effects of climate change on water provision for agriculture

Leticia Palazón, David Haro Monteagudo, Santiago Beguería

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution


Spanish Pyrenean headwater catchments constitute main source of water for the dry and large Ebro basin (Spain).
The Gallego-Cinca rivers system provide water to the Riegos del Alto Aragón (RAA) irrigation district which
with a total irrigated area of 127,210 ha is currently the largest irrigated area in Spain and in the European Union.
The system is already close to its average resource limit and some supply restrictions took place in the last years.
Water provision from headwater catchments and agricultural demands are expected to be altered in different ways
by climate change. Under this uncertainty situation of change a multi-model multi-scenario methodology was implemented to assess multiple combinations of climate change adaptation strategies in the RAA irrigation district.
Adaptation strategies, or measures, were tested against an ensemble of regional climate datasets by linking a hydrologic and a water allocation model. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was used to simulate water
provisions from the Gallego-Cinca headwater system under the collection of regional climate dataset. Afterwards,
SWAT outputs were fed into a water allocation model built with AQUATOOL to simulate the management of the
system’s reservoirs and the water supply to the different demands. The combination of strategies includes various
measures oriented to enhance adaptation to climate change of the system (e.g. additional storage, irrigation modernisation, or crops adaptation), that take different intensities reflecting different aspects of the two models used
in the simulation process. The performance of adaptation strategies under a large number of scenarios allows incorporating the inherent uncertainty of climate change into the decision making process. The comparison between
the performance of the assessments, as well as the trade-offs between different alternatives, provide guidance to
decision makers about which adaptation options are more robust under this highly uncertain future. This makes
possible to find alternatives that perform satisfactorily over a larger number of situations instead of optimally
within a single or a few scenarios. Additionally, this process has the potential to provide a better understanding of
the system’s dynamics under climatic change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeophysical Research Abstracts
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventEGU General Assembly 2019 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 7 Apr 201912 Apr 2019


ConferenceEGU General Assembly 2019
Abbreviated titleEGU2019
Internet address


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