Home Database Research and knowledge projects Assessment of climatic change and impacts on the quantity and quality of water

Assessment of climatic change and impacts on the quantity and quality of water (ACQWA)


It is now widely accepted that human activities are capable of triggering climate change, with potentially significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts. Although the effects of the changing climate will be largely dependent on the region, it is of vital importance to devise tools for monitoring and predicting these effects. Based on this, the EU-funded ACQWA (Assessment of climatic change and impacts on the quantity and quality of water) project was established. Thirty-seven partners worked together, focusing on water as a vital component of human, animal and plant communities. Advanced modeling techniques were employed to quantify the influence of climatic change on river discharge and water resource availability. Partners used case study regions in the European Alps, the Pyrenees, the Andes, and Central Asia to assess changes in temperature and precipitation and to develop regional climate projections of change. New remote sensing optical tools were created for simulating the response of snow and ice in mountains. The impacts of climate change on various hydrological processes and on the incidence of extreme events in catchment areas were also analysed. The project concluded that changes in the hydrological characteristics of rivers originating in mountain regions will spread towards populated lowland regions. Therefore, researchers estimated changes in the quantity and seasonality of water on aquatic ecosystems, tourism, agriculture and the energy (hydropower) sectors. ACQWA demonstrated the need for a more integrated and comprehensive approach to water use and management and to go beyond the conventional water basin management approach. It was shown that consideration should also be given to other socioeconomic factors and the way in which water policies interact with other policies (e.g. energy, agriculture) at the local, national and supra-national level. By understanding the implications of a changing climate, ACQWA partners have helped formulate appropriate policies for avoiding extreme situations and to optimise water governance.

Project information


University of Geneva (CH) Prof.Martin Beniston


Agroscope ART, Zurich, Switzerland AGROSCOPE Switzerland; ARPA, Ag. Reg. per la Protezione dell'Ambiente del Piemonte ARPAPMNT Italy; ARPA, Ag. Reg. per la Protezione dell'Ambiente della Valle d'Aosta ARPAVDA Italy; Universität für Bodenkultur (BOKU) BOKU Austria; Center for Advanced Research in Arid Zones CEAZA Chile; Laboratory of Glaciology and Climate Change (CECS) CECS Chile; Centre d'Etudes de la Neige (CEN), MétéoFrance CEN France; Inst. Torcuato d. Tella (ITTD) ITTD Argentina; Dipartimento Ambiente e Sviluppo Sostenibile, CESI Ricerca CESIRICERCA Italy; CETEMPS Center of Excellence, University of L'Aquila UNIAQ Italy; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique CNRS France; Pyrenean Institute of Ecology, Spanish Research Council CSIC Spain; CVA Spa (Compagnie Valdotains des Eaux) CVA Italy; ENEL SpA ENEL Italy; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) ETH-ZURICH Switzerland; Fondazione Montagna Sicura FONDMS Italy; International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) ICTP Italy; Scienze dell'atmosfera e del Clima (ISAC) ISAC-CNR Italy; Kyrgyz National Academy of Science (KNAS) KNAS Kyrgyzstan; Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE) – CEA CEA France; Monterosastar S.r.l. MONTEROSASTAR Italy; Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e.V. MPG Germany; Alpine Wildlife Research Centre PNGP Italy; DIIAR-Hydrology, Politecnico di Milano POLIMI Italy; University of Bern UNIBE Switzerland; University of Birmingham, Geography & Environmental Sciences UNIBIRMINGHAM UK; Graduate School for International Studies and Development (HEID) HEID Switzerland; Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz UNIGRAZ Austria; University of Dundee

Source of funding

FP 7

Reference information


Published in Climate-ADAPT Jun 07 2016   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Feb 24 2021

Document Actions