Linking global climate change to local water availability: Limitations and prospects for a tropical mountain watershed (2019)

González-Zeas, D., Erazo, B., Lloret, P., De Bièvre, B., Steinschneider, S., Dangles, O., 2019. Linking global climate change to local water availability: limitations and prospects for a tropical mountain watershed. Sci. Total Environ. 650, 2577–2586


ABSTRACT: Bridging the gap between the predictions of coarse-scale climate models and the fine-scale climatic reality is a key issue of hydrological research and water management. While many advances have been realized in developed countries, the situation is contrastingly different in most tropical regions where we still lack information on potential discrepancies between measured and modeled climatic conditions. Consequently, water managers in these regions often rely on non-academic expertise to help them plan their future strategies. This issue is particularly alarming in tropical mountainous areas where water demand is increasing rapidly and climate change is expected to have severe impacts. In this article, we addressed this issue by evaluating the limitations and prospects in using regional climate models for evaluating the impact of climate change on water availability in a watershed that provides Quito, the capital of Ecuador, with about 30% of its current water needs. In particular, we quantified the temporal and spatial discrepancies between predicted and observed precipitation and temperature, and explored underlying mechanisms at play. Our results provide a strong critique of the inappropriate use of regional models to inform water planning with regard to adaptation strategies to face climate change. As a multidisciplinary group composed of hydrologists, ecologists and water managers, we then propose a framework to guide future climate change impact studies in tropical mountain watersheds where hydro-climatological data are scarce.

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