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Sci Total Environ. 2016 Sep 15;565:68-81. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.04.157. Epub 2016 May 6.

Long-term climate sensitivity of an integrated water supply system: The role of irrigation.

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National Research Council, Water Research Institute, Via Salaria km 29,300, 00015, Monterotondo, RM, Italy. Electronic address:
National Research Council, Water Research Institute, Via Salaria km 29,300, 00015, Monterotondo, RM, Italy.
National Research Council Water Research Institute, UOS Bari, Via F. De Blasio, 5, 70132, Bari, Italy.


The assessment of the impact of long-term climate variability on water supply systems depends not only on possible variations of the resources availability, but also on the variation of the demand. In this framework, a robust estimation of direct (climate induced) and indirect (anthropogenically induced) effects of climate change is mandatory to design mitigation measures, especially in those regions of the planet where the groundwater equilibrium is strongly perturbed by exploitations for irrigation purposes. The main goal of this contribution is to propose a comprehensive model that integrates distributed crop water requirements with surface and groundwater mass balance, able to consider management rules of the water supply system. The proposed overall model, implemented, calibrated and validated for the case study of the Fortore water supply system (Apulia region, South Italy), permits to simulate the conjunctive use of the water from a surface artificial reservoir and from groundwater. The relative contributions of groundwater recharges and withdrawals to the aquifer stress have been evaluated under different climate perturbations, with emphasis on irrigation practices. Results point out that irrigated agriculture primarily affects groundwater discharge, indicating that ecosystem services connected to river base flow are particularly exposed to climate variation in irrigated areas. Moreover, findings show that the recharge both to surface and to groundwater is mainly affected by drier climate conditions, while hotter conditions have a major impact on the water demand. The non-linearity arising from combined drier and hotter conditions may exacerbate the aquifer stress by exposing it to massive sea-water intrusion.


Climate variability; Impact scenarios; Irrigated areas; Water management; Water supply system

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