At the Danube Ministerial Conference in 2010, Ministers emphasised that the impacts of climate change will increase and develop into a significant threat in the Danube River Basin if the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is not complemented by climate adaptation measures. In order to be able to take the required steps on adaptation, the ICPDR was asked to develop a Climate Adaptation Strategy for the Danube River Basin until the end of 2012.
Germany was nominated as Lead Country for this activity in the frame of the ICPDR. In this function, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety supported a study with the aim of providing foundations for a common, Danube-wide understanding of future impacts of climate change on water resources and suitable adaptation measures as a basis for the development of the Danube Climate Adaptation Strategy.
The study was elaborated by Prof. Mauser and his team of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Munich. It is solely based on existing studies and projects, no further scenarios or model calculations were carried out.
At a glance, the main conclusions and outcomes of the study can be summarised as follows:
- The impacts on water related sectors are triggered by temperature and precipitation changes;
- An increase of the air temperature is expected with a gradient from northwest to southeast, annually and in all seasons, but particularly in summer in the south-eastern Danube region;
- Regarding precipitation, the Danube River Basin is located in a transition zone between increasing (Northern Europe) and decreasing (Southern Europe) future precipitation, resulting in overall small annual precipitation changes for the whole basin on average. However, seasonal changes with a decrease in summer and an increase in winter precipitation are expected;
- Changes in the seasonal runoff pattern, triggered by changes in rainfall distribution and reduced snow storage and increasing evapotranspiration are predicted;
- An increase in intensity and frequency of heat waves is expected. Droughts, low flow situations and water scarcity are likely to become more intense, longer and more frequent;
- Regarding floods, although local and regional increased heavy rainfall might occur, there is no clear picture for changes in flood magnitude and frequency;
- An increase of water temperature and increased pressures on water quality are expected;
- Water dependent sectors such as agriculture, forestry, navigation and water related energy production are likely to suffer under the projected future conditions;
- Changes for ecosystems and biodiversity are predicted with shifts of the aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna;
- But also positive effects are projected, such as a reduction of ice days on rivers or longer vegetation periods.
The study also includes an indication of the uncertainty of the predicted changes and impacts next to a summary of possible adaptation measures, what is considered as a further key element for the future discussions in the frame of the ICPDR. For more information please consult the full version of the study which you can download following the link below.