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Integration of climate seasonal prediction and ecosystem impact modelling for an efficient adaptation of water resources management to increasing climate extreme events

Climate extreme events, like heat waves, droughts, and floods, stress ecosystems and compromise their capacity to provide key services related to water. However, despite the vulnerability of the water quality sector to climate extremes, there has been limited development of solution-oriented tools integrating Climate Services and ecosystem impacts modeling.

WATExR /”water-ex”/ aims to integrate state-of-the-art climate seasonal prediction and water quality simulation in a QGIS-based advanced solution to ensure efficient decision making and adaptation of water resources management to an increased frequency of climate extreme events.

“The scientific community has made remarkable progress in understanding the role of climate in the occurrence and intensity of droughts, storms and other extreme events relating to water quantity. It is time for a similar examination of extremes in water quality”

Anna M. Michalak in Nature, July 21st 2016

Extreme climate events

and water quality

Water resources are closely dependent on the services supplied by ecosystems that maintain both water quantity and quality. Climate Extreme Events, like heat waves, droughts and floods, stress ecosystems and compromise their capacity to provide key services related to water (e.g., decreased streamflows, reduced capacity to process nutrients and organic matter, mobilization of pollutants, compromised fish stocks). This implies huge economic and social impacts, which are expected to be even more relevant in the future. However, despite the vulnerability of the water quality sector to climate change, there has been limited development of solution-oriented tools integrating climate services and ecosystem impacts modelling for efficient adaptation to climate extreme events.

What are

climate services?

Climate services involve the generation, provision and contextualization of information and knowledge derived from climate research for decision making at all levels of society.


The Global Framework for Climate Services, an UN-led initiative spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), was launched at the World Climate Conference 3 in September 2009 to guide the development and application of science-based climate information and services in support of decision-making in climate sensitive sectors. More recently, in Europe, the Copernicus program was launched, consisting of a complex set of systems, which collects data from multiple sources: earth observation satellites and in situ sensors as ground stations, and airborne and seaborne sensors. Meanwhile, several countries and organizations have started developing climate services to further predict the future impacts of climate variability, and apply climate predictions for different sectors, such as tourism, agriculture and water.

Can climate services

help protecting water quality?

Understanding the impact of climate extreme events on water quality has become a hot scientific topic. Anticipating these events can help reduce the associated risks, and may result in a substantial reduction in financial costs associated with the mitigation of and adaptation to climate extreme events. Seasonal climate prediction is a climate service that perfectly fits this purpose. A seasonal prediction aims to estimate the change in the likelihood of a climatic event happening in the coming months. This implies that the questions we can answer in seasonal forecasting are different to the questions we are trying to answer in weather forecasting. Instead of asking about the wehater in a particular day (like in weather forecasting), we are interested in the probability of a particular phenomena during the following season, for instance the probability of having extreme floods next Spring.


Duration: 3 years. | Start date: September 15th 2017. | End date: September 14th 2020.



Integrate cutting-edge seasonal climate prediction and ecosystem impact models in co-developed advanced tools tailored to the different needs of end-users in the water quality management sector.


Implement the co-developed advanced tools in a standardized, user-friendly QGIS environment to facilitate the adoption of climate services by the water quality management sector.


Show how climate services help to tackle climate extreme events related impacts on water quality, thereby improving the efficiency of decision making and adaptation strategies in the water quality management sector.


Link to the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP, https://www.isimip.org/) by contributing a new sector of impact models (lakes).

Our approach

WATExR will co-develop advanced, standardized tools tailored to end-user demands in seven representative catchment across Europe, which cover a wide range of water management issues affected by climate extreme events including recreation, fisheries, drinking water supply, and the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). In each case study, WATExR will build an original, standardized modelling workflow system programmed as a QGIS plug-in. WATExR will assess the potential of the new tools for improving mid-term decision making in the water quality sector when facing climate extreme events and for defining adaptation strategies to future increases in extremes.


WATExR involves a multidisciplinary, trans-national team that includes partners with expertise in climate modelling and prediction, catchment modelling, and lake/reservoir modelling, as well as a full array of private and public water managers from the individual case study sites. This will allow us to test our model predictions under real conditions, and gain direct feedback from the stakeholders.


All the tools in WATExR will be co-developed with local water managers and stakeholders. Co-development is a set of methodologies for interaction between developers and final users to ensure that tools and assessments are solution-oriented and tailored to user needs. In WATExR co-development is guided by Albirem (https://albirem.com).