Freshwater resources are under increasing stress as a consequence of overuse and climate change with wide-ranging consequences for human societies and ecosystems. To reduce the vulnerability of ecosystems, society and water consuming economic sectors (agriculture, energy, industry) to climate change, it is necessary to enhance the knowledge on water resource availability and use, on future changes to climate and hydrological systems and on risks of extreme weather events.
Actions should address one or more of the following issues:
- A comparative assessment of the state-of-the-art integrated river basin models that are currently used for assessing water availability and vulnerability in the context of climate change. Models should be capable of simulating both surface and groundwater quantity and quality issues, as well as water supply and use and land use changes. They should be also able to take into account the socio-economic impacts of future climate change scenarios, as well as the costs and benefits associated with the adaptation strategies defined in response to those. In assessing water availability, an estimation should be made of the environmental flows necessary to sustain the health of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The impacts of various management and hydraulic infrastructure systems on the ecological flows of water and sediments should also be considered in this estimation. Assessments should be carried out in several river basins within and outside Europe, which are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts and are facing significant water related problems, with a view to providing policy recommendations for long term infrastructure investments and management strategies beyond the river basins addressed.
- Improve accuracy and spatiotemporal resolution of regional scale projections of changes in precipitation, soil moisture, runoff and groundwater availability for management purposes, and quantification of the related uncertainties. Projections of changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as severe storms, heat waves, floods, including flash floods and droughts should be also made. The potential of recent global observation studies and data collections, in cooperation with relevant EU earth observation initiatives, such as ESA, should be considered.
- Development of techniques, monitoring tools and innovative sensors for advance measurement and calculation of current available water balances and future needs and monitoring, leveraging on advanced computation technologies (e.g. high performance computing, edge analytics, cloud computing, and grid computing), artificial intelligence and Internet of Things
- Development of a long-term observation framework and capacity, in collaboration with the Copernicus programme and GEOSS and any other relevant global observation initiatives, to support integrated analysis of water resource availability in Europe, including the development of community-driven, open access, end-to-end data infrastructures. This framework should be linked the European Open Science Cloud, as a pan-European cross-sectoral data space for research and innovation, and should include all relevant in situ and earth observations needed to monitor and assess the impacts of climate change on water resource availability and to support integrated model developments and adaptation planning responses. Both surface and groundwater resources as well as water quantity and water quality issues should be considered. Particular attention should be given to ensuring availability of data to measure and/or assess relevant water use. In developing this framework, a thorough review of existing observational systems and initiatives at both EU and global level developed over recent years should be undertaken, and experiences and lessons learnt from previous long term water related research studies across a wide range of river basins within and outside Europe should be considered. Cooperation with relevant European water observation institutions and initiatives, such as ESA, EEA and JRC, is important.
Actions should bring together a multidisciplinary and multi‐institutional team of researchers to pursue a combination of ﬁeld data collection, innovative data analysis methods, artificial intelligence and the development of data‐driven reduced-complexity models for scientiﬁc understanding and to guide management decisions, and to support relevant stakeholders and policy makers.
All in-situ data collected through actions funded from this call should follow INSPIRE[[https://inspire.ec.europa.eu/]] principles.
In general, the participation of academia, research organisations, utilities, industry and regulators is strongly advised, as well as civil society engagement whenever necessary, also aiming to broaden the dissemination and exploitation routes and to better assess the innovation potential of developed solutions and strategies.
In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.