SUDEM- CLI - Impact of climate change on river hydrology and ecology: A case study for interdisciplinary policy oriented research


The impact of climate change on river hydrology and ecology is a subject that receives increasing attention and has strong implication for hydrological, ecological, economic and social policy. Because climate change affects such wide variety of disciplines, pursuing research in this field requires an interdisciplinary approach. This need to simultaneously understand and project the climate change, and to project and effectively deal with its impacts on the present and future aquatic ecosystem, presents a great challenge to the global research community .

While it is important to understand sources and magnitudes of climate change uncertainty, there is also need to understand how and in what form policy makers can deal with uncertainties. The question arising here is how to address in both communication and decision making the uncertainties associated with regional climate change projections.

The aim of this research is bringing together key experts from the climatological, hydrological and ecological research communities, as well as water managers and policy makers, in order to improve the decision making regarding the impact of climate change on aquatic and floodplain ecosystems. The first aim is to discuss relevant research issues in an open, interdisciplinary team. The focus on a case study “Grote Nete” will allow us to adapt these relevant issues, while focusing on the combined information from climate projections.

A series of workshops (four workshops) aims bringing together all sectors (climatologists, hydrologists / water engineers, biologists / ecologists and policy makers). Also hydro-meteorologists, sociologists and economists collaborating in the ongoing ADAPT and CCI-HYDR projects are invited to take part of these workshops and put their expertise in the general discussion around climate change and environmental friendly adaptation measures with specific focus on the case study. The objectives of these workshops are: Take stock of what is known in pertinent fields and identify the connections between them; Foster communication across the disciplinary and academic lines that divide us so as to push forward the research to an efficient and fruitful ways; Based on the case study specific focus, delineate the state-of-the-art from which we then can develop both a research and action agenda within the context of climate change in belgium, with a view on assessing other impacted sectors; Asses the impact of climate change on the aquatic river valley and floodplains biodiversity; Integration of technical outcomes in subbasin management policy and plans.
Climatologic research is very important for climate prediction, since knowledge of climate, including its statistical structure in space and time, is of importance to the environment. Only a modest change in the average of temperature or precipitation may imply changes in the statistical distribution of extremes and its consequences on the ecosystem. One of the variables of main interest is the chemical river water quality. It is a function of the chemical load applied to the river, the water temperature, and the volume of flow. Changes in the intensity, duration and frequency of rainfall events can alter paved runoff contribution, nutrient leaching and the occurrence of sewage overflow events. Therefore changes in river flows may alter the oxygen levels, organic pollutant and nutrient loads which are primary factors for species composition and biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems (especially fish population). Furthermore, altered flood regimes by changes in river flow regimes can also have impacts on the species composition and biodiversity of both riverine and riparian (floodplain) habitats.
The research will focus on the case study of “Grote Nete & Grote Laak”. This will allow us to cover relevant issues regarding the environmental impact of Climate change induced changes in river hydrology. The case study will also allow a certain focus. Both in terms of management options as for elements at stake (ecosystem types - vegetation types). The Grote Nete case raises awareness on several cross-policy challenges for water managers, nature development/conservation organisations, waste water treatment agencies which need strong interdisciplinary cooperation among  hydrologists, ecologists and climatologists. 



National {Cooperation status}
Belgium {Geographical scope}
Inland Waters {Habitat type}
Ecosystem Services {Tags}


Name Role Amount
Science for Sustainable Development unknown


Name Role Start End
Staes, Jan member 2009-03-01 2010-09-01
Meire, Patrick member 2009-03-01 2010-09-01


Name Role Start End
Ecosystem Management Research Group member 2009-03-01 2010-09-01
Faculty of Science member 2009-03-01 2010-09-01


Name Role Start End
ADAPT: Towards an integrated decision tool for adaptation measures - Case study: floods partner

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:web

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