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Hydroclimatic changes and drivers in the Sava River Catchment and comparison with Swedish catchments

Levi, Lea, Jaramillo, Fernando, Andričević, Roko, Destouni, Georgia
Ambio 2015 v.44 no.7 pp. 624-634
climate change, evapotranspiration, land use, rivers, runoff, temperature, water power, watersheds, Eastern European region
In this study, we investigate long-term hydroclimatic changes and their possible relation to regional changes in climate, land-use and water-use over the twentieth century in the transboundary Sava River Catchment (SRC) in South Eastern Europe. In a hydropower dominated part of the SRC, unlike in an unregulated part, we find increase in average annual evapotranspiration and decrease in temporal runoff variability, which are not readily explainable by observed concurrent climate change in temperature and precipitation and may be more related to landscape-internal change drivers. Among the latter investigated here, results indicate hydropower developments as most closely related to the found hydroclimatic shifts, consistent with previous such indications in studies of Swedish hydropower catchments. Overall, the present results have quantitatively framed the recent history and present state of hydroclimate in the SRC, of relevance for water resources in several countries and for a majority of their populations. This provides a useful basis for further assessment of possible future hydroclimatic changes, under different scenarios of climate change and land/water-use developments in the region.