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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 11 Sep 2018

Research article | 11 Sep 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).

Water restrictions under climate change: a Rhone-Mediterranean perspective combining ‘bottom up’ and ‘top- down’ approaches

Eric Sauquet1, Bastien Richard1,2, Alexandre Devers1, and Christel Prudhomme3,4,5 Eric Sauquet et al.
  • 1Irstea, UR Riverly, 5 rue de la Doua CS20244, 69625 Villeurbanne cedex, France
  • 2Irstea, UMR G-EAU, Water resource management, Actors and Uses Joint Research Unit, Campus Agropolis – 361 rue Jean-François Breton – BP 5095, 34196 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
  • 3European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, UK
  • 4Department of Geography, Loughborough University, Loughborough, LE11 3TU, UK
  • 5NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BB, UK

Abstract. Drought management plans (DMPs) require an overview of future climate conditions for ensuring long term relevance of existing decision-making processes. To that end, impact studies are expected to best reproduce decision-making needs linked with catchment intrinsic sensitivity to climate change. The objective of this study is to apply a risk-based approach through sensitivity, exposure and sustainability assessments to evaluate the vulnerability of current DMPs operating in the Rhône-Méditerranée (RM) district to future climate projections. After inspection of legally-binding water restrictions (WR) from the DMPs in the RM district, a framework to derive WR durations was developed based on harmonized low-flow indicators. Whilst the framework could not perfectly reproduce all WR ordered by state services, as deviations from socio-political factors could not be included, it enabled to identify most WRs under current baseline, and to quantify the sensitivity of WR duration to a wide range of perturbed climates for 106 catchments. Four classes of responses were found across the RM district. Using the drought of 2011 to define a critical threshold of acceptable WR, the analysis showed that catchments in mountainous areas, highly sensitive to temperature changes, are also the most predisposed to future restrictions under projected climate changes considering current DMPs whilst catchments around the Mediterranean Sea, mainly sensitive to precipitation changes, were less vulnerable to projected climatic changes. The tools developed enable a rapid assessment of the effectiveness of current DMPs under climate change, and can be used to prioritize review of the plans for those most vulnerable basins.

Eric Sauquet et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Eric Sauquet et al.
Eric Sauquet et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This study aims at identifying catchments and the associated water uses vulnerable to climate change. Vulnerability is here considered as the likelihood of failure for water-related activities under future drought conditions. This study provides the first regional analysis of the stated water restrictions highlighting heterogeneous decision-making processes; data from a national system of compensation to farmers for uninsurable damages have been used to characterize past failure events.
This study aims at identifying catchments and the associated water uses vulnerable to climate...