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Contribution of rainfall vs. water management to Mediterranean wetland hydrology: Development of an interactive simulation tool to foster adaptation to climate variability

Lefebvre, Gaëtan, Germain, Christophe, Poulin, Brigitte
Environmental modelling & software 2015 v.74 pp. 39-47
climate, climate change, computer software, ecosystems, evapotranspiration, hydrologic models, marshes, monitoring, rain, soil water, water allocation
Mediterranean wetlands are increasingly managed to maintain their functions and services following modification in water allocation, embankment and climate change, calling for proactive and adaptive water management. In a first step, we used long-term monitoring of water levels in 37 adjacent embanked marshes in the Camargue as a repeated non-controlled experiment to build a hydrological model. Without information on water input/output by marsh users, we could nevertheless estimate evapotranspiration under flooding and dry conditions, and soil water coefficient. The model provided a high predictive accuracy (adjusted R2 = 0.73–0.83) of monthly water levels when applied to an independent sample of 12 marshes. In a second step we developed an interactive decision-aid tool that allows users to visualize the impact of their management strategy (desired water level at a specific month) on subsequent water levels, and their consequence on different components of the ecosystem over a 10-yr period.