In the context of global change, where increasing climate and human pressures threaten water availability, it is important to be able to assess the impact of climate change on water resources in the Pyrenees, with the hope of proposing adaptation scenarios.
In this regard, the ‘Water’ line of action carried out under the OPCC project consists of simulating the hydrology of several Pyrenees rivers with different climate change scenarios in mind to determine to what extent this phenomenon may affect water availability and how to manage the main factors that govern it. To this end, a precise methodology and set of hydrological indicators shall be developed to characterise climate impact on this resource before the end of the 21st century by making studies of several pilot basins.
In order to ensure integral management of the Pyrenean water basins, based on existing synergies between OPCC project partners, a trans-Pyrenean hydrological tracking network shall also be created and fostered as a ‘network of last-resort supply’ to include groundwater resources.
The action aim lies in anticipating possible effects of climate change on the availability of water resources in the Pyrenees.
Therefore, it shall seek to:
- better understand the spatial-temporal dynamic of water resources in a representative range of rivers throughout the Pyrenees by implementing hydrological indicators, some from various studies on climate change. The application of these indicators shall be expanded within the framework of the OPCC project to include the operational management of draught, including the management of water resources available in form of snow and the evaluation of soil moisture, as well as water deficit, especially in irrigation areas;
- assess climate change anticipated by 21 Regional Climate Models (RCMs) provided by the European project ENSEMBLES: “Based Predictions of Climate Changes and their Impacts”;
- simulate the hydrological response of some of the major rivers in the mountain region to the changes in precipitation and temperature levels projected by these models;
- simulate dam management strategy in light of predicted hydrological changes and assess current regulation models to optimise water use in the context of climate change and land use;
- define methodologies that balance hydroelectric and environmental uses, taking into account economic sustainability tools;
- create a trans-Pyrenean tracking network for groundwater resources (with the support of BRGM) in order to assess the latest strategic supply resources.
- assess existing projects dealing with water and climate change;
- select measurement and data infrastructures for pilot basins;
- identify measurement and data infrastructures managed by agencies external to the project (which may be of interest);
- establish existing methodological bases for collecting rainfall, snowfall, agro- meteorological, hydro electric (and other) data throughout the mountain region;
- characterise a range of problems associated with water management affected by climate;
- standardise data and quality control (error detection and correction);
- wide distribution of data related to integrated water management, in accordance with an open data policy;
- develop a representative set of indicators (based on existing global studies on climate change) to anticipate the impacts of climate change in Pyrenean river basins and define appropriate adaptation strategies, integrating these indicators in the daily management of water resources;
- draft a guide of good practices and recommendations to improve the consideration of climate change adaptation for stakeholders involved in water issues and increase their awareness;
- identify uncertainties and gaps that require more extensive research in the field of water and climate control (specifically in the Pyrenees mountain region) and transmit these reflections to the scientific community;
- Study new sources of funding to support the technical-economic durability of the OPCC and develop new joint projects.
Main stages/ action plan
1. Bibliography of projects associated with water and climate change issues.
2. Initial inventory of data and existing measurement networks.
3. Create a historical database of hydrological and climate parameters (rainfall, snowfall, agro-meteorological, hydro electrical and others) with the aid of advanced data processing (quality and standardisation of series used for the action).
4. Mark off and characterise several representative basins in the Pyrenees mountain region.
5. Prepare, adapt, and standardise processing and data validation tools. More specifically, propose to apply the standard “Observations Data Model” (ODM) of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science (CUAHSI, http://www.cuahsi.org/) and exchange data in standard WaterML format, as well as promote other geographic data standards recognized by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).
6. Define indicators to monitor climate impact (including drought indices). Associate climate change indices and daily management.
7. Develop different scenarios of climate change for the Pyrenees (temperature and precipitation) for 2020-2100.
8. Assess the impacts of climate changes with a fixed horizon of 2100 for each pilot river basin considered once indicators have been fulfilled.
9. Identify filling and emptying patterns for the dams analysed in relation to the seasonality of water flow and consequences of climate change.
10. Establish a trans-Pyrenean hydrogeological monitoring network to control trends and the state (quantitive and qualitive) of groundwater resources.
11. Assess and develop an institutional promotion plan for the OPCC in the area of water and climate change.
Climate change indicators (within the OPCC framework)
Climate change and drought indicators prevalent throughout Europe and, in many cases, the rest of the world, shall be applied (with greater geographical resolution) to the operational management of water resources. These indices shall be the same ones developed and used by the European Drought Observatory (EDO, http://edo.jrc.ec.europa.eu/), integrated in the European Water Scarcity and Drought Information System (WS&D-IS), and those considered by the drought observatory of the NOAA.
Standardised Precipitation Index (PSI)
Varying temporal frequency: every month, every three months, annual, inter-annual
Soil moisture / phenological state of vegetation
|Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)|
Daily Stress Level (DSL)
|Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) (*)|
Indices of water resources in snow form in regulated river basins
On a weekly basis
Climate and hydrological drought indicators
|Standardized Precipitation Index|
|Standardized precipitation Evapotranspiration Index|
|Standardized Streamflow Index|
Water flow predictions of hydrological models
Reserves in dams
|Débits moyens en saisons de haut débit|
These indices, of a global nature are integrated with local calculation indices such as standardised indices for measuring water flow, piezometric level, and volumes stored, in a Drought and Scarcity Management Index (IGSE) specialised for the different Operational Management Units (UGE) associated with municipal water supply. The IGSE is calculated weekly and available on the Drought Observatory Website (WOS), open to the general public, along with any restrictions on water use, should they apply.
ACA and IPE shall oversee technical coordination between those stakeholders involved in water issues in the Pyrenees in order to facilitate agreement and the creation of a network of experts and planners, thereby promoting the identification and development of new cross-border projects in the water sector.
Among the partners involved, the Adour-Garonne Water Agency (AEAG) and the Group of Analysis of Adverse Meteorological Situations (GAMA GROUP) of the University of Barcelona (UB) shall collaborate in this action. In addition, the Institute for Geological and Mining Research (BRGM) shall actively participate and the collaboration of various water authorities on both sides of the Pyrenees shall be encouraged, including the Rhone-Mediterranean and Corsica Water Agency (AERMC), Ebro Water Confederation (CHE), Basque Water Agency (URA), and the Directorate General for Environment and Water of the Government of Navarra.
In addition, it should be noted that some of the tasks to be carried out under the “Water” branch of the OPCC are made possible thanks to preliminary research, development, and innovation work (R+D+I) promoted by the ACA in collaboration with different research groups, technology centres, and highly specialized companies, which must include:
• The Centre of Applied Research in Hydrometeorology (CRAHI) of BarcelonaTECH (UPC)
• Hydrometeorological Innovative Solutions (Hyds), spin off of CRAHI
• Research Group of Methods and Applications in Remote Sensing and GIS (GRUMETS) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)
• Starlab Barcelona
• Senlui Software
• Hydromodel Host (H2)
• ACA : Agence Catalane de l'Eau - Département de Gestion des Ressources Hydriques
• Institut Pyrénéen d'Ecologie (IPE) - Conseil Supérieur de Recherches Scientifiques (CSIC)