Development of water use scenarios as a tool for adaptation to climate change
The project ADAPTACLIMA, promoted by EPAL, the largest Portuguese Water Supply Utility, aims to provide the company with an adaptation strategy in the medium and long term to reduce the vulnerability of its activities to climate change. We used the four scenarios (A1, A2, B1, B2) adopted in the Special Report Emissions Scenarios (SRES) of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to produce local scenarios of water use. Available population SRES for Portugal were downscaled to the study area using a linear approach. Local land use scenarios were produced using the following steps: (1) characterization of the present land use for each municipality of the study area using Corine Land Cover and adaptation of the CLC classes to those used in the SRES; (2) identification of recent tendencies in land use change for the study area; (3) identification of SRES tendencies for land use change in Europe; and (4) production of local scenarios of land use. Water use scenarios were derived considering both population and land use scenarios as well as scenarios of change in other parameters (technological developments, increases in efficiency, climate changes, or political and behavioural changes).
The A2 scenario forecasts an increase in population (+16%) in the study area while the other scenarios show a reduction in the resident population (−6 to 8%). All scenarios, but especially A1, show a reduction in agricultural area and an increase in urban area. Regardless of the scenario, water use will progressively be reduced until 2100. These reductions are mainly due to increased water use efficiency and the reduction of irrigated land. The results accord with several projects modelling water use at regional and global level.