EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Water scarcity and climate change impacts in the Eastern Italian Alps: A case study of the Adige river basin

Susen Shrestha1, Mattia Zaramella2, Giacomo Bertoldi3, Marco Borga2, Stefano Terzi1, and Pittore Massimiliano1
Susen Shrestha et al.
  • 1EURAC research, Institute for Earth Observation, Italy
  • 2Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padova, Italy
  • 3EURAC, Institute for Alpine Environment, Bolzano, Italy

Over the past decade, the Adige river basin in the Eastern Italian Alps has experienced water scarcity during early spring and late summer, due to a combination of decreased snowmelt, less precipitation, and increasing water demand. This condition has caused tension and disputes between upstream and downstream water users, particularly between hydropower companies in the upstream region (Trentino/South Tyrol) and agricultural users in the downstream areas (Veneto region). The potential for water scarcity impacts to intensify and expand in the future remains a major concern with climate change leading to more frequent warm and snow droughts in the region. Informing the region's administration, institutions, communities, and businesses to manage water scarcity conditions, is essential to prepare and mitigate the potential future impacts. This work aims to explore decision-making options in drought conditions in the Adige river basin, along with the potential impacts of climate change, by exploiting hydrological models for the river basins and for the major reclamation consortium in the area. The study will focus on years with severe drought, such as the 2022 drought period, using simplified decision options and examining how the decisions to meet the water needs of hydropower agencies in the upstream part of the Adige river basin could impact agricultural water use in the downstream part. The analysis will then be repeated in similar conditions, but with the added element of climate change forcing and reduced glacier volumes in the Alps. This study will identify those needs that might not be fulfilled in certain drought scenarios providing valuable insights for decision-makers and supporting the development of effective strategies to prepare and better manage future water scarcity conditions in the region.

How to cite: Shrestha, S., Zaramella, M., Bertoldi, G., Borga, M., Terzi, S., and Massimiliano, P.: Water scarcity and climate change impacts in the Eastern Italian Alps: A case study of the Adige river basin, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-13266,, 2023.