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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-161
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Apr 2018

Research article | 04 Apr 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Why increased extreme precipitation under climate change negatively affects water security

Joris P. C. Eekhout1, Johannes E. Hunink2, Wilco Terink3, and Joris de Vente1 Joris P. C. Eekhout et al.
  • 1Soil Erosion and Conservation Research Group, CEBAS-CSIC, Spanish Research Council, Campus Universitario Espinardo, 30100, P.O. Box 164, Murcia, Spain
  • 2FutureWater, Calle San Diego 17 4a, 30202, Cartagena, Spain
  • 3FutureWater, Costerweg 1V, 6702 AA, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Abstract. An increase of extreme precipitation is projected for many areas worldwide in the coming decades. To assess the impact of increased precipitation intensity on water security, we applied a regional scale hydrological and soil erosion model, forced with Regional Climate Model projections. We specifically considered the impact of climate change on the distribution of water between soil (green water) and surface water (blue water) compartments. We show that an increase in precipitation intensity leads to a redistribution of water within the catchment, where water storage in soil decreases and reservoir inflow increases. This affects plant water stress and the potential of rainfed versus irrigated agriculture, and increases dependency on reservoir storage, that is increasingly threatened by an increase of soil erosion. This study demonstrates the crucial importance of accounting for the fact that increased precipitation intensity leads to water redistribution between green and blue water, increased soil erosion, and reduced water security.

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Short summary
Under climate change it is likely that severe rain storms and droughts become more frequent, which may jeopardize water availability. In a Mediterranean catchment, which is already under water stress, we show that climate change may lead to a redistribution of water from soil to reservoirs. Soil erosion may increase as well, causing an accelerated siltation of reservoirs. Ultimately, climate change may affect rainfed and irrigated agriculture potential and threaten overall water security.
Under climate change it is likely that severe rain storms and droughts become more frequent,...
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