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ACQWA Project Assesses Climate Impacts on Water Quantity and Quality

WMO4 September 2013: The results of a project known as ACQWA (Assessing Climate Impacts on the Quality and Quantity of Water) were presented at a conference at World Meteorological Organization (WMO) headquarters on 4 September.

The project assessed the vulnerability of water resources in mountain regions, such as the European Alps, the Central Chilean Andes and the mountains of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan), where declining snow and ice are likely to affect hydrological regimes in a warmer climate, impact on water availability, and increase competition among economic sectors, such as agriculture, tourism or hydropower.

The project aimed to use model results to quantify the environmental, economic and social impacts of changing water resources to assess the suitability of current water governance strategies and to consider adaptive measures to alleviate the negative impacts of climate change on water resources and use.

During the conference, project coordinator Martin Beniston, University of Geneva, said while mountains account for 20% or less of continental surface area, they are the source of more than half the world's rivers and 60% of surface water. Thus, the project examined how future shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns, and changes in the behavior of snow and ice in many mountain regions would change the quantity, seasonality, and possibly the quality of water originating in mountains and uplands. WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told the conference that the ACQWA project would enhance the research base of the WMO-led Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), which aims to strengthen the provision of accessible, accurate climate services to meet the needs of users, with priority being given to the water, food security, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and health sectors.

The project was undertaken by a consortium of 30 partners from ten countries, with the participation of over 100 scientists, and with the EU contributing nearly €6.5 million. [Publication: ACQWA: Summary for Policymakers] [WMO Press Release on ACQWA Project] [WMO Website]