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Sensitivity exploration of water balance in scenarios of future changes: a case study in an Andean regulated river basin

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Effects of climate change on water resources availability have been studied extensively; however, few studies have explored the sensitivity of water to several factors of change. This study aimed to explore the sensitive of water balance in water resources systems due to future changes of climate, land use and water use. Dynamical and statistical downscaling were applied to four global climate models for the projections of precipitation and temperature of two climate scenarios RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5. Land use projections were carried out through a combination of Markov chains and cellular automata methods. These projections were introduced in a hydrologic model for future water supply evaluation, and its interactions with water use projections derived from a statistical analysis which served to assessment deficits and surplus in water to 2050. This approach was applied in the Machángara river basin located in the Ecuadorian southern Andes. Results showed that the water supply exceeds the water demand in most scenarios; however, taking into account the seasonality, there were months like August and January that would have significant water deficit in joint scenarios in the future. These results could be useful for planners formulating actions to achieve water security for future generations.

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The research was carried out as part of the projects titled “Evaluación de métodos de generación de escenarios para la simulación del riesgo de fallo en el suministro de agua en épocas de estiaje. Caso de estudio en un sistema de recursos hídricos multipropósito” and “Evaluación del riesgo de sequias en cuencas andinas reguladas influenciadas por la variabilidad climática y cambio climático. Caso de estudio en la cuenca del rio Machángara”. We appreciate the provision of information of INAMHI, ETAPA, UDA, MAE and SIGTIERRAS. Thanks are due to Freek Everaert for his suggestions for writing the manuscript.


This research was funded by the University of Cuenca through its Research Department (DIUC).

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A.A. conceived the initial idea of the study, led the implementation of the methodological steps and drafted and finalized the manuscript. K.P. constructed hydrologic model, simulated the performed of water resources system and developed water use scenarios. J.P and O.D. contributed to the historical analysis of LULC and developed LULC scenarios. S.J. treated the climate models information and provided climate scenarios. D.Z. processed and analyzed the hidrometeorological data and contributed to Figures and Tables editing.

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Correspondence to Alex Avilés.

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Avilés, A., Palacios, K., Pacheco, J. et al. Sensitivity exploration of water balance in scenarios of future changes: a case study in an Andean regulated river basin. Theor Appl Climatol 141, 921–934 (2020).

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