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Robust decision-making under uncertainty for a moorland ecosystem's water resources management under scenarios of climate variability

Presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, 9-13 December 2013

Author(s): Flores, F. ; Forni, L. ; Escobar, M. ; Purkey, D.
Year: 2013

A climate-informed water resources decision-making framework can help effectively manage the complexity of water resources while adapting to climate change effects. The decision-making framework allows for more effective and inclusive water resources management, and results in better informed decisions about water allocation and adaptation strategies.

This study focuses on modeling the moorland ecosystem's water resources management under climate variability, and strengthening the capacities of local actors through a robust decision-making under uncertainty framework to analyze and plan water resources use in the region of Piura, Peru. The objective is to determine the reliability of the moorland ecosystem's water supply and to provide relevant hydrological information under scenarios of climate variability and other non-climate uncertainties.

As a first step, a participatory workshop was carried out with key regional actors to obtain information that would help identify the uncertainties that define availability of water resources, the potential strategies for adaptation to improve existing conditions, and the performance indicators by which to assess these uncertainties and strategies, using the XLRM assessment framework (eXogenous uncertainties, policy Levers, Relationships, and Measures).

The XLRM framework allows us to organize the important elements of risk analysis and vulnerability in the four assessment categories. This study also used the WEAP (Water Evaluation And Planning system) platform to support water resources planning and decision-making under uncertainty e.g. climate change and other stresses in the system. Within the R component, WEAP was used to model the hydrological response of the moorland ecosystem. The model includes the results of the XLRM framework and seeks to determine the importance that the moorlands have on the regional water system.

Results of this model include the head flows produced that feed the watershed management model under different sensitivity scenarios of precipitation and temperature. Vulnerability is observed on the produced base flows of the moorlands ecosystem due to a decrease in moorlands' area and to climate variability-related impacts during the 50 years of simulation. This system-level vulnerability has significant effects on the water supply available for downstream demand sites, including rural and agricultural users that rely exclusively on a reservoir.

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