A new FP7 project is preparing for its kick-off. The ACQWA project (Assessing climatic change and impact on the quantity and quality of water) will evaluate the impact that climate change is having on water originating in mountain regions. With a budget of around €6.5 million over five years and 37 partners, ACQWA will take advantage of advanced modelling techniques to best determine impacts of climate change on alpine water sources around the globe.
The impacts of climate change are becoming more and more apparent. This is particularly true in mountainous regions which are highly vulnerable to the changing climate. The melting of snow and ice contribute to freshwater supplies, hydropower generation and irrigation. However, these are all at risk with the increase in glacial retreat, the melting of permafrost and decreased snowfalls. In addition, these changes have strong socioeconomic impacts for everyone living downstream.
ACQWA’s goal is to use advanced modelling techniques to quantify the influence of climate change on the determinants of river discharge. The project will also look at the impact these factors have on society and the economy of the affected regions.
The focus of the project will centre on continuous transient scenarios from 1960 up to 2050. By looking at a more limited timeframe from previous projects, ACQWA will be able to develop a more realistic assessment of climate change’s impact on social, economic and political systems.
The Rhone and Po river basins will be the common ‘test grounds’ for model investigations. These basins are perfect case-study areas as they contain all natural elements that will be modelled: snow, ice, vegetation and hydrology. In the later stages of the project the focus will shift to other parts of the world, notably the Andes, Chile and Argentina, and Central Asia, specifically Kyrgyzstan.
ACQWA will analyse environmental and socioeconomic responses in terms of hazards, aquatic ecosystems, hydropower, tourism, agriculture, agriculture and the health implications of changing water quality.
Various workshops, conferences, newsletters and other undertakings are being planned to disseminate the project results. It is hoped that presenting the results to the wide public including policymakers, academics and other stakeholders will lead to policy changes and protection of water supplies.
ACQWA’s kick-off meeting took place 8–10 October in Wengen, Switzerland. The meeting brought all the partners together to discuss the key objectives of the project, review various issues relating to the project and discuss project management.