Climate change and socio-economic driving forces will affect Europe's future freshwater resources. A large-scale water model is used to analyse these effects and to identify ‘hot spots’ of water stress in the Black Sea region, as an example of an area where future water demand is expected to exceed the available water resources. Two scenarios are analysed, describing different developments of water withdrawals. Depending on the scenario, water stress increases or decreases due to changing water withdrawals which are identified as the principal cause of additional water stress in the future. According to the ‘economic-oriented’ pathway, water withdrawals are expected to increase by 58%. In Turkey and Bulgaria where water is already scarce, a further decrease in water availability will exacerbate the situation. By contrast, the ‘quality of life oriented’ scenario, assuming raised awareness to save water, results in a reduction of water withdrawals by approximately 59%. The situation of decreasing availability and increasing demand leads to growing competition between users and may finally end in cross-sectoral conflicts. This type of modelling study helps to prepare and foresee which kind of management options (in which sectors especially, and where) would be required to reduce ecological, economic and social consequences.

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