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Jorda-Capdevila, Dídac; Gampe, David; Huber García, Verena; Ludwig, Ralf ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4225-4098; Sabatera, Sergi; Vergoñós, Laura and Acuña, Vicenç (2019): Impact and mitigation of global change on freshwater-related ecosystem services in Southern Europe. In: Science of The Total Environment, Vol. 651, No. 1: pp. 895-908 [PDF, 4MB]


Global change is severely impacting the biosphere that, through ecosystem services, sustains human well-being. Such impacts are expected to increase unless mitigation management actions are implemented. Despite the call from the scientific and political arenas for their implementation, few studies assess the effectiveness of actions on freshwater-related services. Here, by modeling water provisioning, water purification and erosion control under current and future conditions, we assess future trends of service provision with and without mitigation policies. In particular, two different storylines combine multiple climate, land use/land cover and agricultural management scenarios, and represent a pro-efficiency business as usual (myopic storyline) and a future that considers social and environmental sustainability (sustainable storyline). The mentioned services are modeled for the horizon 2050 and in three South European river basins: Ebro, Adige and Sava, which encompass the wide socio-environmental diversity of the region.

Our results indicate that Mediterranean basins (Ebro) are extremely vulnerable to global change respect Alpine (Adige) or Continental (Sava) basins, as the Ebro might experience a decrease in water availability up to 40%, whereas the decrease is of only 2–4% in the Adige or negligible in the Sava. However, Mediterranean basins are also more sensitive to the implementation of mitigation actions, which would compensate the drop in water provisioning. Results also indicate that the regulating services of water purification and erosion control will gain more relevance in the future, as both services increased between 4 and 20% in both global change scenarios as a result of the expansion of agricultural and urban areas. Overall, the impact of global change is diverse among services and across river basins in Southern Europe, with the Mediterranean basins as the most vulnerable and the Continental as the least. The implementation of mitigation actions can compensate the impact and therefore deserves full political attention.

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