Abstract

This study describes an integrated modelling approach to better understand the trophic status of the Montargil reservoir (southern Portugal) under climate change scenarios. The SWAT and CE-QUAL-W2 models were applied to the basin and reservoir, respectively, for simulating water and nutrient dynamics while considering one climatic scenario and two decadal timelines (2025–2034 and 2055–2064). Model simulations showed that the dissolved oxygen concentration in the reservoir's hypolimnion is expected to decrease by 60% in both decadal timelines, while the chlorophyll-a concentration in the reservoir's epiliminion is expected to increase by 25%. The total phosphorus concentration (TP) is predicted to increase in the water column surface by 63% and in the hypolimion by 90% during the 2030 timeline. These results are even more severe during the 2060 timeline. Under this climate change scenario, the reservoir showed an eutrophic state during 70–80% of both timelines. Even considering measures that involve decreases in 30 to 35% of water use, the eutrophic state is not expected to improve.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mediterranean reservoirs typically show heavily modified water quality due to irrigation needs that are predicted to increase under future climate change and will pose new management challenges.

  • With this work, we filled an important gap of knowledge by modelling how water quality variables and quantity will decrease under future climate change and societal scenarios in a typical Mediterranean reservoir.

  • Predictions were accomplished by integrating basin and reservoir modelling tools, allowing to analyse the continuous inflow to the reservoir and its changes in water quality under the influence of climate change.

  • The reservoir under study is predicted to evolve to an eutrophic status, even with the implementation of measures to reduce irrigation water consumption .

  • The study indicates that global changes will pose greater challenges than expected on the implementation of effective management actions to prevent the general decrease in water quality.

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