Integrative Methods, Scenarios and Strategies to Mitigate Global Change Impact on the Water Cycle: a Case Study in the Upper Danube Basin
The GLOWA Danube project focuses on the Upper Danube basin, a region that currently benefits from water reserves which provide excellent water availability and water quality for most users. So why embark on a project to make a relatively well-functioning, more-or-less intact water cycle the object of scientific study? The answer lies in the GLOWA programme’s full title – Global Change and the Hydrological Cycle. Global climate change will introduce a range of influencing factors that will alter the entire water situation in the Upper Danube basin.
Climate researchers expect, for example, that changes in climate in the Upper Danube catchment will have a significant impact due to altitude differences of some 4,000 m. With its complex range of influencing factors, the Upper Danube makes an excellent site for collecting natural and social science data. The region’s increasing potential for waterrelated conflict provides what is virtually an ideal setting in which to launch a pilot project of this kind.
The ultimate goal of the GLOWA Danube project is to establish a decision support system to serve sustainable water management aimed at mitigating change in the water cycle of the Upper Danube basin. A prototype version of the system – known as DANUBIA – is already in use. Over the course of several expansion phases in the GLOWA Danube project, the system will be further developed to provide a computer-aided tool to allow non-scientists in decisionmaking positions (policymakers, industry, associations and stakeholders) to assess the impact of water-related decisions on their home territories.
Using a range of scenarios agreed and drawn up by researchers and stakeholders, DANUBIA will answer the question as to the outcome if one or other decision is made. Because the situation in the Upper Danube catchment is comparable to that in many other mountain and foreland areas around the world, the project is aimed at ensuring transferability of the DANUBIA system to other regions such as the Pyrenees, the Himalayas, the Andes, the Caucasus and the Ethiopian Highlands).
As part of the GLOWA Danube project, a computer-aided integrated simulation tool will be developed whose basic structure will make it suitable for use in alpine catchments in temperate latitudes. The system’s key feature is that it integrates both the results and observations of the various research disciplines (natural and social sciences) involved in the project.
Over 40 researchers from 13 research groups located at six different universities agreed on the use of Unified Modelling Language (UML) – a system wellestablished in industry and used in the integration of corporate departments involved in joint projects. Use of UML is a first in scientific research and underpins the prototype function of the project. By utilising UML, GLOWA Danube researchers were able to interface the various disciplines and connect the different models via data exchange.
DANUBIA is driven by a LINUX cluster comprising 56 processors which allow models to be run in parallel. Finally, DANUBIA will serve as a decision support tool to allow assessment of a range of options in managing water resources to mitigate global change.