River flows in the Pyrenees could decrease by up to 15% in 2040

The rivers of the Pyrenees will have less flow and their annual contribution could decrease to 15% in 2040 and 20% by the end of the century, a fact motivated by climate change, which could threaten the irrigation system of Alto Aragón. A report by researchers at the Supreme Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

This is one of the main conclusions of the international “Piragua” project, a study documenting the progressive reduction of water resources in the Pyrenees in recent decades, in which organizations from France, Spain and Andorra participated within the framework of the European Interreg POCTEFA program in 2014. -2020.

As CSIC said in a statement, these results are presented in two monograph volumes, one that analyzes the current and future status of these water resources and the other that suggests measures for climate change adaptation and stream management transformation.

The researchers argue that the changes that have occurred in recent decades are due to both rising temperatures and recent land-use changes, mainly due to the increase in vegetation cover due to the abandonment of agricultural activities in the mountains.

They add that simulation models of future climate projections show that in the coming decades, rivers on the French slope are the ones to experience the sharpest reductions in flow, although reductions are expected on the southern slope, especially in the central part. Eastern part of the Pyrenees.

For the researchers, one of the main reasons for the decrease in flows is the average annual temperature increase in the Pyrenees, which was 0.8 degrees Celsius between 1981 and 2010.

The increase, which was more pronounced in the central region of the Pyrenees (Gallegos, Cinca and Essera basins) and the easternmost region, as well as on the northern slope, and depending on the season, the increase was more pronounced in spring and summer. .

According to project leader Santiago Begueria, also a researcher at the Aula Dei Experimental Station (EEAD-CSIC) and member of PTI Clima, “model results show very consistently that the Pyrenees will be warmer in the future.” and dry, with a general increase of dryness, both in space and time, except in the higher regions.’

In general, he added, “there will be a gradual reduction in the annual contribution of the Pyrenees rivers, which will be accentuated as the century progresses and will be more pronounced in the most pessimistic emissions scenario.”

Adaptation measures

Beguéria recalled that the Pyrenees have a “particular importance” in terms of generating water resources, far beyond the mountain range itself, as they feed water needs for agriculture, industry and the supply of the wider region beyond. his surroundings.

In addition, he warned that water has a “fundamental ecological and landscape importance”, which, in his opinion, requires the need to adapt to climate change in the management of water resources in the Pyrenees, both locally and locally. Basin and mountain range scales.

Among the transversal measures proposed to adapt to these changes, nature-based solutions that aim to maintain and enhance ecosystem services (those that the ecosystem provides to society) stand out because, according to them, “they represent a sustainable alternative and are sometimes cheaper than technological investments or infrastructure construction and maintenance.

In addition, as a fundamental adaptation measure, it is proposed to promote citizen participation to give local people a place in resource management, as they are “most affected and those who know best the characteristics of the area and its needs”.

“The development of a dialogue between science and society is essential to promote effective and common actions to adapt to climate change in the Pyrenees,” added the researcher.

Source: El Diario

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