EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The impact of climate change and land use/land cover change on water resources in a data-scarce catchment in Tanzania

Kristian Näschen1, Bernd Diekkrüger1, Mariele Evers1, Britta Höllermann1, Larisa S. Seregina2, Stefanie Steinbach3, Frank Thonfeld4,5, and Roderick van der Linden2
Kristian Näschen et al.
  • 1Geography, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany (;;;
  • 2Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany (;
  • 3Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands (
  • 4Remote Sensing Data Center, German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany (
  • 5Remote Sensing, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany

The Kilombero catchment is a meso-scale catchment of 40,240 km² in south central Tanzania and is characterized by overall data scarcity like many other African catchments. The catchment consists of a highly dynamic floodplain system at its centre which is sustained by water from the surrounding uplands. It also contains a Ramsar site giving evidence to its valuable ecosystem and importance concerning biodiversity conservation. However, in the last decades land use and land cover changes (LULCC) accelerated drastically towards an agriculturally-shaped landscape, especially at the fringes of the wetland. The wetland system provides fertile soils, water as well as other water-related ecosystem services. Nevertheless, the increasing pressure on natural resources jeopardizes the sustainability of the socio-ecological system, especially in the face of climate change.


In this study, methods of hydrology, meteorology and remote sensing were used to overcome data-scarcity and gather a sound representation of natural processes in the catchment. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was applied to represent the hydrological processes in the catchment. We utilized Landsat images from several decades to simulate the impact of LULCC from the 1970s until today. Furthermore, we applied the Land Change Modeller (LCM) to simulate potential LULCC until 2030 and their impact on water resources. To account for climatic changes, a regional climate model ensemble of the Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) Africa project was analysed and bias-corrected to investigate changes in climatic patterns until 2060, according to the RCP4.5 (representative concentration pathways) and RCP8.5 scenarios.


The climate change signal indicates rising temperatures, especially in the hot dry season, which reinforces the special features of this season. However, the changes in precipitation signals among the analysed RCMs vary between -8.3% and +22.5% of the annual mean values. The results of the hydrological modelling also show heterogeneous spatial patterns within the catchment area. LULCC simulation results show a 6-8% decrease in low flows for the LULCC scenarios, while high flows increase by up to 84% for combined LULCC and climate change scenarios. The effect of climate change is more pronounced compared to the effect of LULCC, but also contains higher uncertainties. This study exemplarily quantifies the impact of LULCC and climate change in a data-scarce catchment and therefore contributes to the sustainable management of the investigated catchment, as it shows the impact of environmental change on hydrological extremes and determines hot spots, which are crucial for more detailed analyses like hydrodynamic modelling. The information from this study are an essential part to assist local stakeholders protecting the wetlands integrity on the one hand and to ensure sustainable agricultural practices in order to guarantee food security on the other hand in a catchment that has already changed tremendously and is still target to manifold future plans.

How to cite: Näschen, K., Diekkrüger, B., Evers, M., Höllermann, B., Seregina, L. S., Steinbach, S., Thonfeld, F., and van der Linden, R.: The impact of climate change and land use/land cover change on water resources in a data-scarce catchment in Tanzania, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9287,, 2020


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