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Exploring climate model data

Water Management


Water provides vital services for nature, agriculture and nearly all sectors of society. Soil moisture, sometimes managed through irrigation, controls productivity of natural and man-made ecosystems. Ground and surface waters are the primary source for drinking water supply. Rivers are used for transport and play important roles in energy supply, providing hydropower and cooling water for thermal power plants. At the same time they may pose significant threats to natural and economic assets when flooding.

Climate Change Trends

Climate change is projected to lead to significant changes in precipitation patterns across Europe. The general picture is that winter precipitation amounts will increase in Northern Europe and summer precipitation amounts will decrease in Southern Europe. At the same time the likelyhood of intense rainfall events will increase throughout Europe. Potential evaporation will also increase across the continent. As a result major changes in water availability across Europe are anticipated with increasing water scarcity and droughts mainly in Southern Europe and increasing risk of floods throughout most of Europe.

Impacts, Adaptation, Vulnerabilities

These precipitation trends may affect the water systems in a number of ways. Changes in soil moisture occur in the form of summer droughts affecting agricultural production. Adverse effects maybe mitigated by irrigation, retention measures or changed cropping systems. Soil moisture may also be more often saturated leading to slope instabilities and potential land slides. Increased river discharge variability is anticipated. Summer low flows may affect drinking water intake, navigability for ships, water supply for industry and energy generation. Winter and spring high flows may lead to flooding of floodplains and beyond, augmenting the need for hard (e.g. dikes) and soft (e.g. floodplain management) protection measures.

Typical Workflow

Precipitation is highly variable in space and time, while at the same time the model skill wrt absolute rainfall magnitudes is relatively low. These two facts make that, perhaps more than for any other weather variable, we need to make sure we sample the full range of model predictions and make maximum use of information contained in ensemble simulations.

For proper skill assessment a number of observed datasets are available for reference. Besides precipitation they may also include other variables relevant for hydrologic research (e.g. those controlling evaporation):

  • globally the CRU dataset (since 1901, monthly totals, 0.5degr) or the WATCH forcing data set (since 1901, 3hrly, 0.5degr)
  • Europe wide the best reference datasets are probably the ECA-D (station level, since 1950, daily) and E-obs dataset (gridded, since 1950, daily, 10km)
  • nationally rainfall data may have been collected by very high density gauge networks and/or rainradar by the national meteorological services

For generic workflow information see that section. See also the Use Cases below.

Use Cases

The following elaborated use cases are available as an example


The above mentioned data sets can be accessed through:

On adaptation in the water sector refer to:



The ENES3 project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 824084.