Climate change, re-/afforestation, and urbanisation impacts on evapotranspiration and streamflow in Europe

  • Teuling A
  • de Badts E
  • Jansen F
  • et al.
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Abstract

<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> Since the 1950s, Europe has seen large shifts in climate and land cover. Previous assessments of past and future changes in evapotranspiration or streamflow have either focussed on land use/cover or climate contributions, or have focussed on individual catchments under specific climate conditions. Here, we aim to understand how decadal changes in climate (e.g., precipitation, temperature) and land use (e.g., de-/afforestation, urbanization) have impacted the amount and distribution of water resources availability across Europe since the 1950s. To this end, we simulate the distribution of green and blue water fluxes at high-resolution (1&amp;thinsp;&amp;times;&amp;thinsp;1&amp;thinsp;km) by combining (a) a steady-state Budyko model for water balance partitioning constrained by long-term (lysimeter) observations across different land-use types, (b) a novel decadal high-resolution historical land use reconstruction, and (c) gridded observations of key meteorological variables. The continental-scale patterns in the simulations agree well with coarser-scale observation-based estimates of evapotranspiration, and also with observed changes in streamflow from small basins across Europe. We find that strong shifts in the continental-scale patterns of evapotranspiration and streamflow have occured from 1950 to 2010. In Sweden, for example, increased precipitation dominates effects of large scale re- and afforestation leading to increases in both streamflow and evapotranspiration. In most of the Mediterrenean, decreased precipitation combines with increased forest cover and potential evapotranspiration to reduce streamflow. In spite of local and regional scale complexity, the Europe-wide net contribution of land use, precipitation and potential evapotranspiration changes to changes in ET is similar with around ~&amp;thinsp;40&amp;thinsp;km<suP>3</sup>/y, equivalent to the discharge of a large river. For streamflow, changes in precipitation dominate land use and potential evapotranspiration contributions with ~&amp;thinsp;90&amp;thinsp;km<sup>3</sup>/y compared to ~&amp;thinsp;45&amp;thinsp;km<sup>3</sup>/y. Locally, increased forest cover and urbanisation have lead to significant decreases and increases of available streamflow.</p>

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Teuling, A. J., de Badts, E., Jansen, F. A., Fuchs, R., Buitink, J., Hoek van Dijke, A. J., & Sterling, S. (2019). Climate change, re-/afforestation, and urbanisation impacts on evapotranspiration and streamflow in Europe. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 1–30. https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-634

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