Title                           Evaluating sediment Delivery Impacts on Reservoirs in changing climaTe and society across scales and sectors

Lead PI                      Alena Bartosova, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Sweden

Partner PI                  Silke Wieprecht, University of Stuttgart, Institute for Modelling Hydraulic and Environmental Systems, Germany
                                   Kristian Förster, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany
                                   Nils Rüther, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
                                   Stefan Achleitner, University of Innsbruck, Unit of Hydraulic Engineering, Austria
                                   Machteld Van den Broek, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht                                     University, The Netherlands

Funding Agencies    FFG, Austria
                                   BMBF, Germany
                                   FORMAS, Sweden
                                   NWO, NL
                                   RCN, Norway

Project website


There are currently about 7000 large dams and thousands of smaller dams in Europe providing important but vulnerable services such as hydropower generation, drinking water supply, irrigation, flood protection, and recreation. The project DIRT-X addresses the question of how the changing climate and socioeconomic conditions influence water reservoirs and the services they provide to different economic sectors through integration of existing climate services (Copernicus Climate Change Service Climate Data Store, CDS, and Toolbox), Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), impact models, and close cooperation with stakeholders from the relevant sectors.

Climate change most likely leads to higher average precipitation and to more intensive rainfall events in Europe with consequent increased erosion and sediment transport. Excess sediment could lead to losses in reservoir storage, higher demand for resources due to altered operation, changes in reservoir services to society e.g. hydropower production, and even impacts on sectors downstream of reservoirs, particularly in coastal zones.

DIRT-X addresses Theme 1 and Theme 2 of the call directly through cross-sectoral and cross-scale analyses of climate impact assessment models, integrating hydrologic and sediment models with energy and economic models. DIRT-X builds on three case studies with hydropower production with each highlighting a different process (glacial melt, sediment load, and downstream impacts on sensitive coastal zone) to increase our understanding of how changes in sediment can affect different societal sectors. The DIRT-X partners share their expertise across the case studies, cooperating and transferring knowledge across borders and sectors. Stakeholders play a crucial role; the resulting Climate Impact Indicators (CIIs) must be relevant to stakeholders and policy makers and compatible with existing operational climate services.
We employ impact models at a pan-European scale, runoff and sediment models (regional and global resolution) and energy and economic model. Targeted model experiments will show how the model setup affects its response to changes in forcing data and reveal factors affecting the model spread. Interdependencies among sectors dependent on water storage will reveal potential tensions during water stress.

The integration of hydrological process modelling with economic models assessing water stress, cross-sectoral conflicts, and energy system enables investigation into the how hydrologic impacts are best translated into economic consequences and what are the implications of climate impacts within these systems. The project will improve models to assess interdependencies and economic value of water usage across sectors and their response to changes in runoff and water storage (Theme 2). Theme 3 is supported indirectly through assessing socioeconomic impact (SSPs), targeted model experiments, and comparing outcomes with the long-term objectives in the Paris Agreement.