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Water cycle under future climate

Specific challenge: The rising demands of a growing world population for food, water, materials and energy will put increasing pressures on land use, water resources and ecosystems. Increased energy use leads to increased demands for cooling water for thermal power plants. Climate mitigation options such as biomass production for energy (biofuels) might also lead to increased land and water demands. Increased food and feed demand will put increasing pressures on land (e.g. deforestation leading to more greenhouse gas emission) and water resources. Such pressures will be compounded by the impacts of climate change which are likely to further modify the availability and suitability of these resources as well as affect agricultural productivity.

Tools to help explore options for low-carbon pathways, such as climate-energy models, currently lack a comprehensive integration of land-use and water systems, leading to an incomplete picture of the interactions between competing demands and the future viability and costs of adaptation and mitigation options as well as the environmental protection and agricultural challenges.

Despite considerable progress over the past ten years, the forecasting of natural water cycle variability and extreme weather events in the short and medium term still suffers from severe limitations. Improved understanding of the impacts of climate change on the hydrological cycle is necessary in order to better inform decision makers and ensure sustainable water supply and management of water systems, and quality of water bodies, in the EU.

Scope: Proposals shall address the following issues.

Water cycle under future climate:

Proposals should aim to: 

  • maximise the reliability of projections of precipitation (average, distribution, frequency, intensity) and couple them with water cycle variability at local/regional scales in Europe, over various timescales;
  • improve the short-to-medium term forecasting of related extreme events, integrating, where possible, information from available data sources;
  • assess the impacts of weather extremes as well as the wider impacts of climate change on the different components of the water cycle in terms of quantity and quality;
  • develop risk management strategies and adaptation options for extreme weather and other climate change-related threats at the appropriate scale(s) (local, regional and continental), taking into consideration the role and involvement of the relevant stakeholders, and potentially putting emphasis on highly vulnerable water resources of strategic importance.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 6 and 8 million (or more) would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact

More efficient management of water resources in Europe due to better knowledge of the water cycle under the future climate. Contribution to management planning across the EU in support of the Blueprint to safeguard Europe's water resources and the EU Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and the relevant priority areas of the EIP 'Water'. Contribution in the longer-term to the development of reliable climate services in relation to the water cycle.

Type of action: Research and innovation actions