Less snow, scarcer and more random water, lower river levels in summer: climate change is here. We already know too much to remain inactive! The Rhone Mediterranean Corsica agency acted as pioneer in France when it adopted a Climate Change Adaptation Basin in 2014. This specifically means that it proposes a strategy and concrete adaptation measures. Local authorities, farmers and industrials from the Rhone-Mediterranean basin are responding to the urgent need for action.
CLIMATE CHANGE DIAGNOSIS
Climate modeling shows that the future will be drier and hotter with less snow (less snowfall + quicker thaws).
There will be less water flowing in watercourses, particularly in Summer: the first factor in reducing flows will be the ground drying up. The predicted trends are unambiguous as to the nature of the problem - 80% in Summer in some southern watercourses and a drop of least 30% in minimum water flow.
Photo : Copyright Camille Moirenc
40%of the areas in the Rhone-Mediterranean have a chronic water deficit
30% is the estimated percentage drop in the flow of the Rhone river in 2050, due to the lack of Spring snow thaw.
We expect to see downgraded biodiversity, impacted by the drying up of wet zones, the drop in river flows and their reduced capacity for dilution and self-purification.
HOW CAN WE MAKE ADJUSTMENTS IN OUR REGIONS?
Practical solutions as to how to adjust to 5 areas of vulnerability
With the Basin Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PBACC), the water agency joined forces with the State and the 5 regions that it covers to suggest 48 measures and 29 flagship actions on the 5 issues of water supply, soil moisture balance, biodiversity, soil trophic level and snowfall (details of the measures in the Basin Plan document).
The plan mapped the basin’s areas of vulnerability, showing that all the areas are vulnerable, but unequally. These maps are useful for showing which areas are the most affected and will therefore require the most action to adjust.
A 3-fold strategy:
Retaining water in the ground
Fighting against water wastage
Restoring an area where the aquatic environment functions properly
A decision can be made in a situation of uncertainty in these three major areas of work without regretting the decision to commit to these actions (meaning that they will be beneficial, even if the effects of climate change are not exactly as expected).
TO BEGIN ACTION IN AN AREA
Identify the level of vulnerability of one’s area
Create the conditions and assemble the resources required for “joint action”.
Systematize discussion and consultation bodies on sharing water. (E.g. Local Water Committees)
Encourage collective management of irrigation
Anticipate crisis situations by adopting drought action plans
Set up forecasting and monitoring tools for hydrological stress periods
Define local regional or branch adaptation strategies