Impacts of climate change and vegetation response on future aridity in a Mediterranean catchment

Villani, L., Castelli, G., Yimer, E.A., Chawanda, C.J., Nkwasa, A., Van Schaeybroeck, B., Penna, D., van Griensven, A., et al. (2024). Impacts of climate change and vegetation response on future aridity in a Mediterranean catchment. Agricultural Water Management 299 e108878. 10.1016/j.agwat.2024.108878.

[thumbnail of 1-s2.0-S0378377424002130-main.pdf]
1-s2.0-S0378377424002130-main.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (5MB) | Preview


The climate in the Mediterranean region is expected to become warmer and drier but future projections of precipitation are uncertain, especially in the Northern part. Additionally, the difficulty in determining the plant physiological responses caused by CO2 rising complicates the estimation of future evaporative demand, increasing the uncertainty of future aridity assessments. Vegetation responses to rising CO2 are expected to increase radiation use efficiency and reduce stomatal conductance, hence increasing plant's water use efficiency. These effects are often neglected when estimating future drought and aridity. Hence, the main objective of this study is to estimate the effect of climate change and vegetation stomatal conductance reduction on projected water balance components and the resulting impact on aridity in a medium-sized catchment of Central Italy. We validate and couple a hydrological model with climate projections from five regional climate models and perform simulations considering the vegetation responses or not. Results show that their inclusion significantly affects potential evapotranspiration. The other water balance components, namely actual evapotranspiration, water yield, percolation, and irrigation, are also influenced but with less significant changes. Considering or not the CO2 suppression effect on stomatal conductance, coupled with the uncertainty related to precipitation, highly affects the estimation of future aridity as the future climate classification ranges from “humid” to “semi-arid” depending on the simulation and climate model, even if model outputs need to be evaluated cautiously with CO2 concentration higher than 660 ppm.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agro-hydrological modelling; CO2 fertilization; Drought; Regional climate model; SWAT+; Tuscany
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Water Security (WAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 31 May 2024 07:08
Last Modified: 31 May 2024 07:08

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item