The Alps function as a water tower for four of the major European river basins. However, a climate change-induced shift in mountain hydrological regimes and the future predicted disappearance of Alpine glaciers at the end of this century will have consequences for water management in both the Alps and the water-dependent lowlands. In this paper the importance of mountain water in the European lowlands and the impact of climate change on the water sector in both the mountains and lowlands are shown. Different demand stakeholders of the Alpine water sector will be affected. Dependent on the particular region in the Alps, problems will be less or more severe but generally adaptation can be achieved by means of the right investments and policies. However, major impacts on the water sector in the lowlands of the Danube, Rhine, Rhone and Po river basins are foreseen. Integrated water management at basin level is required to cope with these challenges.

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