Rivers and lakes in the Alpine River Basins are closely interlinked and pressures on water resources have effects beyond regional and national borders. Also, Alpine waters have an effect on large downstream river basins.
So far, the Alps have profited from sufficient water of good quality. But climate change shifts the scope of Alpine Water Management more and more towards managing fluctuations in water resources: Changing patterns in temperature and precipitation increase the frequency and volume of floods. Simultaneously, droughts – hitherto a lesser concern and only an issue in the southern parts of the Alpine Arc – are an increasing threat. At the same time, climate change increases the users´ demands (for irrigation, cooling, artificial snowmaking and other recreation activities, hydropower etc.), see more about this topic in IP_W1: Tools and methods for drought management in the Alps) Atmospheric temperature increases and the average temperature increase in the Alpine area is nearly twice as high as in the surrounding areas. As a result of this, the water temperature of surface and groundwater bodies of Alpine rivers and lakes rises, too. This directly affects water quality, aquatic ecosystems and their populations as well as biodiversity.