Low flow sensitivity to water withdrawals in Central and Southwestern Europe under 2 K global warming

Peter Greve, Peter Burek, Luca Guillaumot, Erik van Meijgaard, Emma Aalbers, Mikhail M. Smilovic, Frederiek Sperna-Weiland, Taher Kahil, Yoshihide Wada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A sufficient freshwater supply is vital for humans, ecosystems, and economies, but anticipated climate and socio-economic change are expected to substantially alter water availability. Across Europe, about two-third of the abstracted freshwater comes from rivers and streams. Various hydrological studies address the resulting need for projections on changes in river discharge. However, those assessments rarely specifically account for the impact of various water withdrawal scenarios during low flow periods. We present here a novel, high-resolution hydrological modeling experiment using pseudo-global warming climate data to investigate the effects of changing water withdrawals under 2 K global warming. Especially in Western and Central Europe the projected impacts on low flows highly depend on the chosen water withdrawal assumption and can severely decrease under the worst case assumptions. Our results highlight the importance of accounting for future water withdrawals in low flow projections, showing that climate-focused impact assessments in near-natural catchments provide only one piece of the anticipated response and do not necessarily reflect changes in heavily managed river basins.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)094020
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 17 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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