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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-258
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 25 May 2018

Research article | 25 May 2018

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

Climate change effects on the hydrology of the headwaters of the Tagus River: implications for the management of the Tagus-Segura transfer

Francisco Pellicer-Martínez1 and José Miguel Martínez-Paz2 Francisco Pellicer-Martínez and José Miguel Martínez-Paz
  • 1Department of Civil Engineering. Catholic University of Murcia (Spain)
  • 2Department of Applied Economics. University of Murcia (Spain)

Abstract. Currently, climate change is a major concern around the world, especially because of the uncertainty associated with its possible consequences for society. Among these can be highlighted the fluvial alterations in basins whose flows depend on groundwater discharges and snow melt. This is the case of the headwaters of the Tagus River Basin, whose water resources, besides being essential for water uses within this basin, are susceptible to being transferred to the Segura River Basin (both basins are in the Iberian Peninsula). This work studies the possible effects that the latest climate change scenarios may have on this transfer, one of the most important in southern Europe. In the first place, the possible alterations of the water cycle of the donor basin were estimated. To do this, a hydrological model was calibrated. Then, with this model, three climatic scenarios were simulated, one without climate change and two projections under climate change (Representative Concentration Representative 4.5 (RCP 4.5) and RCP 8.5). The results of these three hydrological modelling scenarios were used to determine the possible flows that could be transferred from the Tagus River Basin to the Segura River Basin, by simulating the water resource exploitation system of the Tagus headwaters. These hydrological modelling predict, for the simulated climate change scenarios, important reductions in the snowfalls and snow covers, the recharge of aquifers and the available water resources. So, the headwaters of the Tagus River Basin would be the loss of part of its natural capacity for regulation. These changes in the water cycle for the climate change scenarios used would imply a reduction of around 80% in the possible flows that could be transferred to the Segura Basin, with respect to a scenario without climate change. The loss of water resources for the Segura River Basin would mean, if no alternative measures were taken, an economic loss of 330–380 million euro per year, due principally to decreased agricultural production.

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Francisco Pellicer-Martínez and José Miguel Martínez-Paz
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Francisco Pellicer-Martínez and José Miguel Martínez-Paz
Francisco Pellicer-Martínez and José Miguel Martínez-Paz
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Effects that climate change could have on the Tajo-Segura transfer are evaluated. To that, water resources that would be in the donor basin are estimated by hydrological modelling if the last climatic projections are accomplished. For these water resources, the exploitation of the transfer is simulated using a decision support system, providing volumes that could be transferred to the Segura basin according to its operating rule.
Effects that climate change could have on the Tajo-Segura transfer are evaluated. To that, water...
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