ITS3.4/NH13.4 | Navigating socio-ecological systems in mountain regions and beyond: addressing land use change, water resources, and global change adaptation
Navigating socio-ecological systems in mountain regions and beyond: addressing land use change, water resources, and global change adaptation
Convener: Carolina Adler | Co-conveners: Herlin Chien, Maddalena Pennisi, Diana Pascual Sanchez, Noemí Lana-Renault, Sven Fuchs, Margreth Keiler
| Tue, 16 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST)
Room 2.24
Posters on site
| Attendance Mon, 15 Apr, 16:15–18:00 (CEST) | Display Mon, 15 Apr, 14:00–18:00
Hall X4
Posters virtual
| Attendance Mon, 15 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST) | Display Mon, 15 Apr, 08:30–18:00
vHall X4
Orals |
Tue, 14:00
Mon, 16:15
Mon, 14:00
Landscapes and land use change dynamics taking place over centuries have resulted in considerable environmental change conditions in many places worldwide, posing challenges for regional sustainability and resilience to climate and global change. However, these intricate social-ecological systems, such as mountains, watersheds and beyond, can also serve as natural laboratories through which an understanding of global change processes can be enhanced, as well as promote opportunities for learning and implementing solutions to address these challenges. In this inclusive EGU session, we delve into the complexity of diverse environments and their changes, emphasizing the heterogeneous landscapes shaped by traditional activities over centuries. A primary focus of the session is the imperative for effective land management strategies in response to these challenges. The discussion encompasses the diverse impacts of land use and other processes of change on water resources and the critical need for adaptive strategies to mitigate environmental risks. Ecosystem services, including soil fertility, biomass provision, and biodiversity, play a pivotal role in the assessment of land management strategies, aiming to enhance resilience and reduce climate change risks. The interdisciplinary nature of mountains and other systems is underscored, recognizing the difficulties in adequately parameterizing complex terrain in models and the scarcity of high-elevation monitoring infrastructure, to name a few such constraints. We seek contributions that bridge disciplinary boundaries, incorporating empirical studies of mountain climate, cryosphere, ecology, hazards, and hydrology. Understanding socio-economic dimensions and risks is prioritized, integrating demographic changes, land-use alterations, and projections to understand hazards, vulnerability, and exposure interactions. This collaborative session provides a pivotal platform to advance knowledge, encourage interdisciplinary research, and design comprehensive strategies for sustainable management in mountains, watersheds, and other regions. It stands as a testament to the collective commitment to address the intricate challenges faced by these unique environments, fostering a holistic understanding of their dynamics under global change.

This session is endorsed by the Mountain Research Initiative and the Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Session assets

Orals: Tue, 16 Apr | Room 2.24

Chairpersons: Carolina Adler, Maddalena Pennisi, Diana Pascual Sanchez
Virtual presentation
Linking ecological and socio-economic changes to assess impacts of global change on landscape and ecosystem services in the European Alps
Ulrike Tappeiner, Uta Schirpke, and Erich Tasser
On-site presentation
Caroline Salomão, Nilo Nascimento, and Letícia Lima

Hydropower dams can lead to changes in the access and use of surrounding natural resources, such as land and water. However, in complex socio-ecological systems (SES), taking into consideration different temporal and spatial scales, dams can be just one of the shocks suffered by the SES. Changes in a SES are not linear and can be part of a cycle of causes and effects in a large chain of system processes. We explore these connected processes in the context of Colombia’s Andean region, one of the hotspots of hydropower expansion in the world. This area is also responsible for 70% of the Colombia's agricultural production. We investigated two large hydropower dams: El Quimbo (Huila Departament) and Hidrosogamoso (Santander Department). This study aims to analyze the changes in land-water systems related to cash crops production and the drivers of these change from the commissioning of the dams until recent years (2009 to 2020). Our goal is to understand how perceived changes in the land-water system are induced (or not) by the construction and operation of the dam and how this influence interacts with other global and regional shocks. We conducted 80 semi-structured interviews with representatives of the agricultural sector from the main food chains (palm oil, coffee, cocoa, and rice), and with government representatives responsible for managing the land and water systems. Regional land use and land cover change maps, national agricultural data and hydropower licenses were used to sample design. The influence of the dams in land use patterns regarding crops was different depending on the geographical location of the crops (downstream or upstream dams, and north or south of the Andes), and on the water and land demands for these crops. For example, in the case of rice, an irrigated crop, interviewees declared that the effects of the dam were minimal, unlike the case of coffee, which predominantly uses rainwater for production. In addition, there are some evidence that the influence of the dams in certain crops had indirect effects in some ecosystems, such as the case of oil palm and the wetlands ecosystems. These indirect changes also increased inequalities, as interviewees from large oil palm owners reported that they were switching to an irrigated system, while smallholders would keep relying on rainwater. We also found that global drivers might be able to mask the effect of local drivers, e.g., climatic variability and the variation in commodities prices in comparison to the influence of the dams. Another example are the changes in agricultural practices induced by the increase in prices of fertilizers due to the war in Ukraine, which illustrates the fact that several drivers, including external ones, are concomitantly influencing transformations in land-water system. This study highlights that the influence of certain shocks in SES, such as large infrastructures, cannot be analyzed separately from other concomitant processes, but in a broader perspective, investigating how these processes interact with each other. Different shocks, such as dams, can also aggravate disputes over land and water resources and increase inequalities.

How to cite: Salomão, C., Nascimento, N., and Lima, L.: Beyond energy production: A local perception about the drivers of change in land-water systems for cash crops production surrounding Colombian water reservoirs., EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-1199,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Ruolin Leng, Stephan Harrison, Elizabeth Byers, and Karen Anderson

The Himalayan alpine zone (HAZ) – a high altitude zone above approximately 4100 m.a.s.l., is projected to experience strong eco-environmental changes with climate change. As plants expand their range in this region, the plant-water functioning is likely to be impacted. Satellite remote sensing provides one means of understanding the distribution pattern of HAZ vegetation communities, but the often patchy distribution of alpine vegetation creates challenges when using coarse-grained satellite data whose pixels are typically coarser than the grain of vegetation pattern. Also, the lack of in-situ measurements limits the validation of remote sensing products, and our understanding to the eco-hydrological processes within this area. Here we use fine spatial resolution satellite imagery from WorldView-2 (2 m2 per pixel) coupled with elevation model data from the Copernicus GLO-30 product to produce a land cover classification for HAZ. Grassy meadows and dwarf shrubs belonging to the Rhododendron and Juniperus families dominate the ecology of HAZ in this region so we created three vegetation classes for mapping indicative major plant communities dominated by these species. Based on this land cover map, we compared in-situ measurements in shrubby and open area, to explore the impacts of Rhododendron spp. and Juniperus spp. on temperature under plant canopy. Afterwards, we coupled in-situ measurements with meteorological metrics derived from ERA5, to simulate the evapotranspiration (ET) of these two dominant plant communities. We found that altitude and aspect were dominant drivers of vegetation distribution in HAZ and that the average vegetation cover of Rhododendron spp. and Juniperus spp. reduced with increasing altitude, as expected. South- and east- facing slopes were dominated by Juniperus spp., while north- and west- facing slopes were dominated by Rhododendron spp., and the growth extent of Rhododendron spp. (between 4010 to 4820 m.a.s.l.) and meadow (between 4010 to 4680 m.a.s.l.) were vertically wider than Juniperus spp. (between 4010 to 4660 m.a.s.l.). In general, maximum temperatures under shrub canopies were lower and minimum temperatures were higher compared to unvegetated or open areas at the same location. Juniperus plants had more significant influences on temperature than Rhododendron. Results from this study demonstrate the present vegetation distribution pattern in HAZ at the plant community level, and the potential ET status relevant to the vegetation expansion trend within this area. This study provides an impetus for studies that seek further understanding to eco-hydrological interactions between dwarf plants and water flows and stores in HAZ.

How to cite: Leng, R., Harrison, S., Byers, E., and Anderson, K.: Alpine vegetation community patterns and implications to eco-hydrology in the Khumbu region, Nepalese Himalaya, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-17005,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Itxaso Ruiz, Ambika Markanday, Noelia Zafra, and Marcela Brugnach

Exacerbated by climate change, water scarcity in the Mediterranean basin poses one of the most significant environmental challenges in the region, compromising adaptation capacities. Current knowledge of how forests contribute to rainwater recycling, i.e. by increasing evapotranspiration and promoting orographic precipitation, has led to the proposal of forest management strategies to mitigate desertification in the western Mediterranean basin. Focusing on a case study in eastern Spain, where formerly arable lands are today covered by dense forests, we reflect on the uncertainties that arise from this relation between land use changes and orographic precipitation at the watershed scale. We aim to transform the encountered uncertainties into actionable opportunities for adapting this territory to ongoing climate change. To support the development of intervention strategies that increase climate resilience, we use an interdisciplinary approach that integrates participatory processes for co-designing sustainable land management measures and a systematic literature review from which we identify the physical and biophysical uncertainties arising from the rainwater recycling hypothesis. In search of practical applications, we are developing a decision support game to test the implementation conditions of the management strategies. This game provides decision-makers with a tool to assess how the proposed measures align with the needs, capabilities, and willingness of local stakeholders, and it also enables reflecting on potential trade-offs. This research contributes to strengthening the water cycle through adaptive land management and, thus, promoting a more resilient western Mediterranean basin.

How to cite: Ruiz, I., Markanday, A., Zafra, N., and Brugnach, M.: Navigating uncertainties: an interdisciplinary approach to land use management in favour of the water cycle , EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-2446,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Andreas Mayer, Claudine Egger, and Veronika Gaube

European mountain regions are becoming more vulnerable to natural hazards due to global change, climate change, and land-use change. Therefore, it is essential to understand their resilience. Currently, quantitative and dynamic models of coupled human-landscape interactions are in their infancy. However, agent-based modelling (ABM) approaches have high potential to advance the analysis of the interplay of natural and social factors affecting socio-ecological resilience in European mountain communities. The Socio-Ecological Land Agent-Based Model (SECLAND) integrates information from qualitative interviews and spatial data into a quantitative modelling environment. This enriches the diversity of scenario modelling beyond economic rationales by incorporating individual agent's motivations for land-use decisions. The outputs from this model have been used as input to hydrological or ecological models on multiple occasions.

SECLAND has been used to model the potential success of various adaptation strategies for coping with climate-induced natural hazards. In a study conducted in the department of Ariège, France, we analysed the potential impacts of intensified livestock grazing on mountain pastures under scenarios with strong climate change effects and increased extreme events. In this scenario, farmers use mountain pastures to seek additional forage resources in specific years. However, these grazing areas require considerate management in years when they are not needed for food provision. Our study also found that the utilization patterns of mountain pastures are strongly influenced by farm succession, vegetation regrowth on unused mountain pastures, and the search for cost-efficient forage resources. In a case study conducted in Eastern Austria, we found that adaptive learning moderates the decline in the number of active farms and farmland, regardless of the scenario conditions, compared to scenarios without adaptive learning. However, the results also indicate that adaptation increases the workload of farmers. This highlights the importance of considering more than just simplistic economic rationales when making land-use decisions. Agent-based models can be used to model socio-ecological responses and help cope with adaptation in complex socio-ecological systems.

Both studies emphasise that in the context of risk management and socio-ecological resilience, learning and managing additional workload are key factors for achieving adaptive success. To further improve, it is necessary to couple agent-based models with climatic and landscape models, allowing for bi-directional feedback between social and natural systems. SECLAND has been adapted to integrate adaptive learning processes, demonstrating the possibility of capturing mutual system dynamics and feedback loops. This allows the full capacity of agent-based models to be used to assess the resilience of mountain communities to cope with natural hazards, using a scenario approach that includes heterogeneous agents, different trajectories of socio-economic conditions, as well as global and climate change dynamics. This presentation outlines a conceptual framework for operationalizing an interdisciplinary effort within a modelling environment that integrates human decision-making, socio-economic conditions, and climatic and landscape dynamics.

How to cite: Mayer, A., Egger, C., and Gaube, V.: Agent-based modelling for understanding the socio-ecological resilience in alpine mountain communities, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-20216,, 2024.

On-site presentation
João Nuno Gomes Vicente Canedo

Monitoring mulch-based solutions to reduce runoff and erosion in a variety of land uses in the Alentejo agro-silvo-pastoral systems


Canedo, J.1*, Coelho, L.1, Basch, G.1, Cabrita, M.J.1, Cachapa, F.1, Caldeira, F.1, Gonzalez-Pelayo, O.1,2, Marques, T.1,  Muñoz-Rojas, J.1,4, Palma, P.3, Pinto-Correia, T.1, Pinto-Cruz, C.1, Tomaz, A.3, Prats, S.A.1

1MED (Instituto Mediterrâneo para a Agricultura, Ambiente e Desenvolvimento) & CHANGE – Global Change and Sustainability Institute, Universidade de Évora, Pólo da Mitra, Ap. 94, 7002-554 Évora, Portugal.

2CESAM (Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar), Universidade de Aveiro, 3810 – 193 Aveiro, Portugal.

3Instituto Politécnico de Beja – Departamento de Tecnologias e Ciências Aplicadas, Edifício da Escola Superior Agrária, Campus do Instituto Politécnico de Beja, Rua Pedro Soares, 7800-295 Beja, Portugal.

4DPAO (Departamento de Paisagem, Ambiente e Ordenamento) – Universidade de Évora, Colégio Luis António Verney, Rua Romão Ramalho, 59 7000-671 Évora, Portugal.


*Corresponding author:


Soil erosion is a critical socio-environmental problem for rural Mediterranean ecosystems and landscapes. Erosion inflicts multiple, serious damages in agro-ecosystems, including vineyards and olive groves, and also in other semi-natural ecosystems such as the Montado (cattle-sheep pastureland combined with Quercus sp. trees). In particular, erosion reduces the water storage capacity, soil organic matter, nutrients and valuable soil biota, which are transported off-site with runoff water. Nature-based solutions, such as the application of organic mulching, reduces runoff and soil erosion between 40% and 90%, respectively. Agri-forest residues such as olive and vineyard by-products can also be transformed to biochar and applied to the soil, increasing soil organic matter, soil moisture and, ultimately, improving the soil status and agronomic soil properties.

Our aim was to verify the effects of the application of combined mulch and biochar upon the mitigation of runoff and soil erosion. Runoff-erosion experimental plots were developed to independently measure runoff, by using pressure sensors, and erosion, by emptying, drying and weighing the sediments stored in sediment fences. A total of 60 plots were installed and monitored during 3 months in olive orchards, vineyards and Montado, which were consistently treated with mulch (2 Mg ha-1 straw/olive leaves) and mulch + biochar (2 Mg ha-1 straw + 10 Mg ha-1). All plots were located across Alentejo, the region of Portugal with a most marked Mediterranean climate.

Preliminary results showed that mulch reduced runoff peakflows in 7% and mulch + biochar reduced it in 28%. Soil erosion was reduced around 60 and 80%, respectively. There were important differences between olive orchards, vineyards and Montado systems. In general, the vineyards and olive orchards are much more prone to erosion when compared to the Montado. Further research is being carried out and will allow the assessment of the effects of mulch and mulch + biochar in other ecosystem services, such as water retention, carbon storage, soil habitat protection and soil fertility.


Keywords: Agriculture, climate change, sustainability, water storage, soil fertility


How to cite: Gomes Vicente Canedo, J. N.: Monitoring mulch-based solutions to reduce runoff and erosion in a variety of land uses in the Alentejo agro-silvo-pastoral systems, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-5589,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Jana Eichel, Markus Stoffel, and Sonja Wipf

High mountains are hotspots of climate and global environmental change. Mountain biodiversity is threatened by quickly rising temperatures which cause vegetation shifts, such as upslope migration. At the same time, natural hazards develop as mountain slopes become increasingly unstable due to permafrost degradation and changes in rain and snowfall regimes. Resulting slope movements, such as rockfalls and debris flows, can limit colonization by plants. However, plants that manage to colonize mountain slopes can stabilize them through their roots and above ground biomass.

Therefore, we believe that an interdisciplinary approach linking ecology and geomorphology is needed as a next step to better understand how climate change affects high mountain landscapes and ecosystems. Combining results from previous geomorphic, ecological and palaeoecological studies, we show that the response of high mountain environments to climate change can depend on the balance between slope movement intensity and the trait-dependent ability of plants to colonize and stabilize moving slopes. For this ‘biogeomorphic balance’ we envisage three possible scenarios: (1) Intensifying slope movements impede vegetation shifts, amplifying instability. (2) Ecosystem engineer species, adapted to moving slopes, stabilize slopes and facilitate shifts for less movement-adapted species. (3) Competitive trees and tall shrubs, shifting on stable slopes, reduce instability but potentially diminish biodiversity. Given the disparate rates of ecological and geomorphic responses to climate change, coupled with high environmental heterogeneity and elevational gradients in in mountains, we anticipate that future biogeomorphic balances will be variable and heterogeneous in both space and time.

To unravel these intricate biogeomorphic balances, we advocate for collaborative research between mountain geomorphologists and ecologists and propose three distinct future directions that combine advancing field measurement, remote sensing techniques and modeling approaches. We believe that by recognizing high mountains as 'biogeomorphic ecosystems', shaped by the interplay of geomorphic and ecological processes, we can improve our ability to safeguard people, infrastructure and ecosystems in mountain environments around the world.



Eichel J, Stoffel M, Wipf S. 2023. Go or grow? Feedbacks between moving slopes and shifting plants in high mountain environments. Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment 47 : 967–985. DOI: 10.1177/03091333231193844

How to cite: Eichel, J., Stoffel, M., and Wipf, S.: Go or grow? An interdisciplinary ‘biogeomorphic balance’ concept linking moving mountain slopes and shifting mountain plants, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-16482,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Accounting of ecological products value in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau: a case study of Lhasa River basin, China
Xinyu Gong, Xiaowei Nie, Zhuoying Zhang, Xiaoduo Pan, and Yang Yang
On-site presentation
Jung-Jun Lin, Feng-Mei Li, Nai-Chin Chen, Chien-Chung Ke, Yen-Tsu Lin, Chia-Hung Liang, Tzi-Hua Lai, and Chi-Chao Huang

The scarcity of freshwater has become a global issue in recent years, particularly in the plain regions of Taiwan. To address this challenge and enhance groundwater management for sustainable use, it is crucial to assess the groundwater resource potential in mountainous regions, as they serve as major recharge sources for the plains in Taiwan. To understand the relationship between groundwater potential and the geological settings of mountainous regions, various field investigation techniques were employed, including geological drilling, core logging, down-hole geophysical well logging, packer tests, and constant-rate pumping tests. This study focused on the main watershed in Central Taiwan, integrating all field investigation results to assess and analyze groundwater potential. Long-term groundwater monitoring wells were established to observe seasonal fluctuations.

Given the geological complexity of the mountainous region, a total of 75 boreholes with a depth of 100 meters were drilled in different geological units. Among the 48 selected sites with higher groundwater potential, groundwater monitoring stations were established, and constant-rate pumping tests were conducted to determine well yields and estimate the hydraulic properties of the rock aquifer. Integration of core and well logging revealed a composition of regolith and fractured bedrock. Geomorphological assessments, including slope analysis and the index of topographic position and wetness, categorized seven terrains: areas near the roof, at ridges, steep slopes, flat slopes, valleys or creek bottoms, alluvial fans downstream from valleys, and main riverbed deposits.

The results showed that the thickness of regolith ranged from 0.5 to 80.8 meters, with a geometric average of 14.7 meters, depending on different terrain types. Well yields ranged from 0.5 to 900 L/min, with an average of 134.4 L/min. Groundwater-level fluctuations ranged from 2.04 to 39.71 meters in shallow aquifers and 1.64 to 29.62 meters in deep aquifers, with outliers reaching 60.53 meters. Notably, higher average well yields and groundwater fluctuations were observed in main riverbed deposits and flat slopes. These findings highlight the observed terrain-based groundwater potential, emphasizing the pivotal role of groundwater-level fluctuation in recharge dynamics.

How to cite: Lin, J.-J., Li, F.-M., Chen, N.-C., Ke, C.-C., Lin, Y.-T., Liang, C.-H., Lai, T.-H., and Huang, C.-C.: Terrain-Based Groundwater Potential and Groundwater Level Monitoring in Mountainous Regions of Central Taiwan, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-18580,, 2024.

Posters on site: Mon, 15 Apr, 16:15–18:00 | Hall X4

Display time: Mon, 15 Apr 14:00–Mon, 15 Apr 18:00
Chairpersons: Herlin Chien, Sven Fuchs, Margreth Keiler
Imbalance in lake variability but not embodying driving factors on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau calls on heterogeneous lake management
Xuejing Leng, Bojie Fu, and Xiaoming Feng
Xiaokang Hu, Yanqiang Chen, Wenyixin Huo, Wei Jia, Heng Ma, Weidong Ma, Lu Jiang, Gangfeng Zhang, Yonggui Ma, Haiping Tang, and Peijun Shi

For the ecologically vulnerable Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP), hypoxia is increasingly becoming an extremely important environmental risk factor that significantly affects the health of both humans and livestock in the plateau region, as well as hindering high-quality development. To focus on the problem of hypoxia, it is especially urgent to study the surface oxygen concentration (i.e., oxygen concentration). However, the existing research is not sufficient, and there is a lack of oxygen concentration data collected on the QTP. In this study, through the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research and field measurements, the oxygen concentration data and corresponding geographic environmental data were collected at 807 measurement points on the QTP from 2017 to 2022, and the spatiotemporal oxygen concentration patterns were estimated. This work filled the gaps in the measurement and research of oxygen concentrations on the QTP while providing data support for analyses of the influencing factors and spatiotemporal characteristics of oxygen concentrations, which is of great significance for promoting the construction of ecological civilization in the QTP region.

How to cite: Hu, X., Chen, Y., Huo, W., Jia, W., Ma, H., Ma, W., Jiang, L., Zhang, G., Ma, Y., Tang, H., and Shi, P.: Surface oxygen concentration on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (2017–2022), EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-16294,, 2024.

Pei Xue, Dominick Spracklen, and Joseph Holden

The runoff ratio is important in hydrology and water resource management because it helps quantify the efficiency of a watershed or catchment area in handling precipitation. The runoff ratio can vary widely depending on factors such as land cover (e.g., urban, forested, agricultural), soil type and permeability, land slope, and climate.  Some previous research revealed that the number of days of precipitation is the major determinant of runoff ratio, while how runoff sensitivity changes at different ratio has been not fully understood. Here, we use runoff ratio as a hydrological indicator to explore the influencing factors of changes in runoff sensitivity. Since land cover types have not changed a lot in the UK after 2000. We calculated runoff ratio for catchments in the UK during 2000 to 2015 and its sensitivity to a range of controlling factors. This study will outline the key findings on runoff ratio controls, which will then be tested in other regions to determine the relative role of land cover change.

How to cite: Xue, P., Spracklen, D., and Holden, J.: Exploring runoff sensitivity based on runoff ratio in the UK during 2000 to 2015, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-16547,, 2024.

Using ecosystem engineering for water purification – a transdisciplinary approach
Annegret Larsen, Matthew Dennis, Cecile Auberson, and Christof Angst
Marius Kalinauskas and Paulo Pereira

Groundwater recharge is one of the key Ecosystem Services (ES) supplied by protected areas (PAs). However, such drivers as biodiversity loss, climate, and land use change affect the capacity for groundwater recharge (GRC). National-scale PA studies focused on GRC ES are scarce, thus leaving a knowledge gap on a global scale. Therefore, it is critical to map and assess the groundwater recharge spatiotemporal dynamics in supporting human wellbeing. In this study we mapped and assessed GRC at different timeframes (1990, 2000, 2012, 2018, 2022) in the PAs of Lithuania at national scale. For the model we used 15 indicators such as annual average evapotranspiration and precipitation, topographic properties (slope inclination, topographic position index, topographic wetness index, roughness index, curvature index, drainage density, lineament density), lithology, geomorphology, soil (texture, depth, imperviousness), land use (Corine Land Cover, Esri Land Cover). The results show that the highest GRC is observed in PAs to the west of the country, closer to the Baltic Sea, and PAs located in the eastern part of Lithuania with dense network of lakes, less intensive agriculture, fewer impervious areas, and soil properties more suitable for water infiltration. Lesser GRC is observed in urban PAs with higher imperviousness (Vilnius city). PAs in south and southwest of Lithuania with more intense agriculture practices, higher drainage density, and less water bodies also show lower GRC, as well as coastal PAs with sandy soils, no freshwater bodies, and higher roughness. The Kruskal-Wallis test showed no significant difference between GRC spatial distribution through different years due to low variation of evapotranspiration and precipitation values, and lesser land use changes within the PAs. Our findings contribute to a better understanding the spatiotemporal dynamics of one of the key provisioning ES in the Lithuanian PAs – the GRC. Mapping and assessing groundwater recharge support better management of the PAs, and contributes to achieving global and regional (e.g., Sustainable Development Goals, EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030) policy targets.

How to cite: Kalinauskas, M. and Pereira, P.: Multi-temporal assessment of Groundwater Recharge Capacity in Protected Areas of Lithuania, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-17956,, 2024.

Gilles Belaud, Kevin Daudin, Marielle Montginoul, François Charron, Pauline Igbui, Crystele Leauthaud, and Paul Vandôme

The Crau plain, 600 km2 located in South-East France, is mainly associated with the production of high quality hay (around 15,000 ha) irrigated from open-channel networks. Traditional irrigation practices consist in high discharge in order to reach the end of long plots, the excess of water being both drained by run-off to ditches and percolated to the so-called “Crau aquifer”. The aquifer recharge depends for around 70% on hay irrigation, the organization of its management thus relies on the sustainability of irrigation practices. However, hay production faces social and physical pressures from local to regional scales.

  • Socially, water management in the fields requires to be fine-tuned to balance working time dedicated to irrigation (difficult labor conditions with high workload and night shifts) with water flows throughout irrigated plots, farms and canals.
  • Physically, the low-performance hay irrigation is under tension because of local land-use changes due to the development of urban areas and other agricultural production (orchards and horticulture), in a context of hydraulic infrastructures requiring important rehabilitation works.
  • Locally, return flows provide a mix of interdependent services, the aquifer being used for the extraction of drinking water for 300,000 inhabitants, for other irrigated crops like orchards, and for industries.
  • Regionally, water comes from an historical inter-basin transfer, passing through a succession of hydraulic infrastructures and hydroelectric power plant before entering the plain. The climate change impacts on upstream precipitation make incoming water being less abundant, leading to water restrictions as experienced in 2022.

The sustainability of water transfers questions the integration of land and water planning. The aim of our research is to propose an original perspective coupling the characterization of water flows in relation to irrigation practices at the plot and scheme scales with the evaluation of farmers leeway in terms of economic and organizational constraints. The objective of this communication is to present each part of this work and to draw up further correspondences between the hydraulic and economic dimensions. First, an agrarian diagnosis revealed the lack of information on water flows, motivating in turn the original development of affordable measuring devices to track water in an irrigated block and automate parts of irrigation practices. Second, the context of water and land increasing scarcities motivated the characterization of the vulnerability of hay productions in terms of access to water, labor and markets. These studies aimed to directly contribute to water management in the Crau plain, respectively in the search for technical optimization to use water in the agricultural system more efficiently (contributing to reduce working flows) and for the definition and evaluation of strategies for adapting agriculture to meet the challenges of farm economics, groundwater recharge and water conservation. Finally, we will draw on both inputs to assess land cover scenarios and their impacts on aquifer recharge; we may also evaluate possible impacts of water restrictions on land uses.

How to cite: Belaud, G., Daudin, K., Montginoul, M., Charron, F., Igbui, P., Leauthaud, C., and Vandôme, P.: Sustainability of water transfers in the Crau plain, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-17364,, 2024.

Liang Dong, Di Long, Caijin Zhang, Yingjie Cui, and Bridget R. Scanlon

A nuanced understanding of crop patterns is pivotal for accurate crop yield and irrigation water use calculations, holding profound implications for national food security and sustainable environmental development. In the water-scarce North China Plain (NCP), where agricultural intensity faces challenges due to groundwater suppression and ecological restoration, this study employs random forest classification on Sentinel-2 Multispectral Instrument (MSI) and Landsat 8 Operational Land Imagery (OLI) time series to reveal the spatial and temporal dynamics of crop patterns from 2013 to 2022. Our classification, featuring a finer scheme (nine categories), higher spatial resolution (10/30 m), and extensive field sampling points, aligns well with China's statistical yearbooks. The annual mapping exposes a shift towards economic forests, mainly from other food crops, across all NCP provinces. Distinct spatial patterns emerge, with wheat-maize rotation decreasing at higher latitudes, countered by an increase in single maize and economic forests. Despite these shifts, wheat-maize rotation remains dominant, and seasonal fallow is concentrated in regions with poor irrigation, notably in groundwater funnel areas. Overall, our crop pattern mapping provides a robust dataset for water conservation and land management, contributing to regional resilience planning.

How to cite: Dong, L., Long, D., Zhang, C., Cui, Y., and Scanlon, B. R.: Fine mapping of crop patterns in the North China Plain from 2013 ‒ 2022, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-14569,, 2024.

Mauro De Feudis, Gloria Falsone, William Trenti, Andrea Morsolin, and Livia Vittori Antisari

Most of the floodplain ecosystems in the world have been reclaimed for allowing urbanization and agriculture. In reclaimed floodplains, water is addressed in artificial canals which could have several purposes such as irrigation, soil draining, hydraulic safety of the floodplain and source of biodiversity. In this context, the main aim of the present study was to evaluate the influence of artificial canal use (irrigation and receiving canals) crossing the Life Green4Blue project floodplain area on water quality. The study area is located within the Po plain (Italy) characterized by heavy reclamation activities for agricultural purposes in the last century. The irrigation canals, used for agricultural purposes, are fed during summer season (from April to September) by the Emiliano Romagnolo Canal which carries water from the Po River. The receiving canals, larger than irrigation canals, are mainly used as discharging canals for both irrigation and draining canal and to lesser extent for irrigation purposes. During the autumn and winter seasons (from October to March), both type of canals is used for hydraulic safety of the investigated floodplain area by keeping the water level of them low. The water survey was monthly conducted from the beginning of 2020 till December 2023. The cluster analysis (CA) showed a clear distinction between water of receiving canals and that from irrigation canals. According to the principal component analysis (PCA), the differences were mainly related to the amounts of nutrients and salts. In fact, water of receiving canals was characterized by higher amount of nutrients (e.g., N–NH4, Ca, K, Mg, P and S) and higher values of electrical conductivity (EC). The poorer water quality of receiving canals can be attributed both to the water origin, namely soil leachates and water of irrigation canals that already flowed for several kilometres the agricultural land, and the absence of freshwater inflow. Therefore, the water quality index (WQI) showed higher value for the irrigation canals (67) compared to the receiving ones (61). For both canals’ type the PCA highlighted the worsening of water quality during the autumn and winter (AW) seasons. Indeed, during AW seasons a greater loading of nutrients and EC were observed compared to spring and summer (SS) seasons. The higher load of nutrients in AW compared to SS might be due to the higher nutrient leaching from soils resulting from the higher rainfalls occurring in AW seasons. In addition, the lower water flow during AW seasons prevented a ‘dilution effect’ and allowed a greater exchange of both cations and anions from the bed sediments. However, it was interesting to observe that the water quality worsening during the AW seasons was marked for irrigation canals compared to receiving ones suggesting the major role of freshwater input on water quality of such type of canals. The present study highlighted the importance of canal use on water quality. Specifically, in a view of a sustainable conservation of floodplain ecosystem services, this study showed the needing to ensure the input of freshwater in all canals’ type and throughout the year.

How to cite: De Feudis, M., Falsone, G., Trenti, W., Morsolin, A., and Vittori Antisari, L.: Canal use purposes impact the water quality: a case study within the Life Green4Blue project floodplain area , EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-10846,, 2024.

Wenyixin Huo and Peijun Shi

The unique habitat and plateau hypoxia in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have always troubled tourists. The study of plateau hypoxia is of great significance to improve tourists' well-being and formulate related policies. In this paper, based on the data of oxygen content and blood oxygen saturation of short-term residents in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Qinghai Province was divided into severe hypoxia region, hypoxia region and non-hypoxia region according to the established relationship between blood oxygen saturation and oxygen content. Combined with the results of the spatialization of short-lived population, the exposure numbers of short-lived population under different hypoxic zones in summer and winter were calculated. The results show that: 1) The distribution of tourist population in Qinghai Province presents a distribution rule of "one center gathering", and the population is mainly concentrated in the eastern region. The population density is high in the main urban areas with dense POI, and very low in woodland, remote mountain and other areas. 2) With the decrease of oxygen content, blood oxygen saturation decreased exponentially. 3) Compared with winter, short-term residents is more suitable to travel to the plateau in summer.

How to cite: Huo, W. and Shi, P.: Hypoxia exposure of short-term residents in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-16027,, 2024.

Hua Cheng, Kasper Johansen, Baocheng Jin, and Matthew Francis McCabe

Key research in movement ecology is investigating shifts in animal behavior and identifying the factors that induce alterations in movement behavior and mechanics. The impact of natural environments and human activities on the underlying behavioral processes of domestic goats are still being elucidated. We applied seasonal multivariate Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) to characterize the fine-scale movements (30- second intervals) of GPS-tracked Zhongwei goats for 124 days and determine how grazing intensity, seasonal food resources, terrain factors and daylight hours affect movement behavior in the mountain grassland in China. We classified the goats’ activities as two basic behavioral states of foraging (low step length, varied and undirected turning angle) and travelling (long step lengths, low and directed turning angles). Grazing intensity, a management factor, exerted the most significant influence on goats across different seasons. Additionally, factors such as daylight hour and slope had a more pronounced impact on their movement activities compared to the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Elevation and solar radiation were found not explain much of the variability in movement behavior of goats. Their probability of foraging behavior was most likely to increase with grazing intensity, slope, diurnal hours and NDVI. In addition, the percentage time allocation of foraging was higher in spring and winter with lower food resources periods and shorten daylight hours, than summer and autumn with larger food resources and long daylight hours. The foraging percentage increased from morning to afternoon. HMMs are found useful for disentangling movement behavior and understanding how goats respond to seasonal grazing intensity, time of daylight, NDVI and slope. Our findings underscore the importance of accounting for interactions between movement behavior and gazing management, not only the environmental factors and behavioral rhythms, when assessing the movement characteristics and behavioral transitions of goats. These results are important for designing grazing management strategies that satisfy ecological and socioeconomic demands on mountain grassland ecosystems.

How to cite: Cheng, H., Johansen, K., Jin, B., and McCabe, M. F.: Seasonal movement behavior of goats related to grazing intensity and environmental variability using Hidden Markov Models, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-6526,, 2024.

Ritwick Mandal, Prasanta Sanyal, and Santrupta Samantaray

Groundwater is the primary reservoir of unfrozen freshwater, a critical element in the
water cycle. It is constantly extracted, which has resulted in irreversible depletion.
The significant extraction of groundwater led to a shift in the Earth's rotational pole
and has been attributed to global sea level rise, and disruption of the regional energy
budget. The extraction has influenced the soil quality and the interaction between
surface and subsurface water. The Hindon River basin, situated in the north-western
region of the Ganga plain in India, once witnessed the Indus Valley civilization, is
now facing adverse effects from anthropogenic activities. The groundwater level has
decreased by over a meter in recent decades, and the concentration of dissolved
nitrate, an indicator of pollution, has exceeded safe limits. The pollution in
groundwater has resulted in numerous severe health issues, including cancer and
liver disorders. Consequently, it is crucial to comprehend the human-induced
alterations in the water cycle, focusing on identifying pollutant sources and the
processes responsible for redistribution of water mass among different components
of the regional hydrological cycle. In this study, we have used remote sensing data in
the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to understand impact of crop patterns
on regional water budget. Chemical tracers such as stable water isotopes (δD-H2O,
δ18O-H2O), dissolved nitrate isotopes (δ15N-NO3 , δ18O-NO3 ), and ionic chemistry [NO3- ]
have been used to validate the model results. The initial output of the model
suggests that changes in existing cropping patterns can improve the discharge in the

How to cite: Mandal, R., Sanyal, P., and Samantaray, S.: Agricultural impact on quality and quantity of groundwater in the north-western Ganga plain, India: A stable isotopes and remote sensing approach, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-17140,, 2024.

Neenu Neenu and Mitthan Lal Kansal

Rapid urbanization and intensive agricultural practices have resulted in considerable changes in land use and land cover (LULC), underscoring the paramount significance of land cover analysis and change detection assessments for river ecosystems. The Yamuna River, a major tributary of the Ganges, is notably polluted, particularly in the Delhi region3. Thus, the compromised Yamuna River's health in Delhi necessitates an intricate exploration of land change intensity. In this context, the study seeks to enhance comprehension of landscape changes in the urbanized expanse of Delhi and scrutinize their repercussions on the Yamuna River. The Land Change Intensity (LCI) analysis, covering the period from 2016 to 2023, was conducted to examine the evolving dynamics of Delhi's temporal and spatial land use patterns. The LCI analysis assesses land use changes by examining the rate of overall change and the patterns of land transitions, determining their consistency across different time periods1. The findings of the study reveal prominent land use changes, with notable expansions into built-up and agricultural areas, resulting in encroachments upon barren land and green areas. During the period, an observable transformation in land cover was discerned, with 12% for built area and a concurrent 10% for crop area. The period also witnessed a 13% decrease in barren land alongside a 5% reduction in green spaces. The land use changes, particularly the expansion of urban areas, adversely affect the Yamuna River's health through a surge in water demand, reduction in capacity for pollutant absorption, extensive agricultural practices involving fertilizer use, and the occurrences of extreme events like floods2. Moreover, the visible and persistent foam formation in the Yamuna River is primarily attributed to urbanization and agricultural activities occurring in the Delhi stretch of the river4. Therefore, there is an urgent need to establish an equilibrium between developmental pursuits and environmental conservation for the holistic well-being of the river ecosystem. Through this study, we corroborate that the encroached floodplain of the Yamuna River in Delhi can be effectively utilized for phytoremediation. Such techniques would facilitate biotic absorption and neutralization of agricultural effluents and emerging pollutants like surfactants.

Keywords: Delhi, Land Change Intensity (LCI), LULC, Phytoremediation, Yamuna River


1. Aldwaik, S. Z., and R. G. Pontius. 2012. "Intensity analysis to unify measurements of size and stationarity of land changes by interval, category, and transition." Urban Plan., 106 (1): 103–114. Elsevier B.V.

2. Kumar, M., M. Sharif, and S. Ahmed. 2020. "Impact of urbanization on the river Yamuna basin." J. River Basin Manag., 18 (4): 461–475. Taylor & Francis.

3. Rajan, S., and J. R. Nandimandalam. 2024. "Environmental health risk assessment and source apportion of heavy metals using chemometrics and pollution indices in the upper Yamuna river basin, India." Chemosphere, 346 (May 2023): 140570. Elsevier Ltd.

4. Sejwal, G., and S. K. Singh. 2023. "Perspective: The unexplored dimensions behind the foam formation in River Yamuna, India." Sci. Pollut. Res., 30 (39): 90458–90470. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

How to cite: Neenu, N. and Kansal, M. L.: Urbanization and River Health: Analyzing the Effects of Land Cover Change on the Upper Yamuna Basin, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-18023,, 2024.

Loukika Kotapati Narayanaswamy, Venkata Reddy Keesara, and Eswar Sai Buri

The growing human population accelerates alterations in land use and land cover (LULC) over time, putting tremendous strain on natural resources. Rapid land use transformations, encompassing urbanization, intensive agriculture, and changes in natural landscapes, have a profound impact on water cycle. This necessitates the development and implementation of sustainable land management strategies to mitigate adverse effects on water resources. Anticipating future land use and cover (LU&LC) dynamics in the Munneru river basin is pivotal for modelling of hydrological processes. This study delves into the combined impact of Land Use and Land Cover Scenarios (LU&LC) which is based on Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP2-45, SSP3-75 and SSP5-85) and climate change within the context of representative concentration pathway (RCP 4.5 & RCP 8.5) scenarios on water resources for Munneru river basin, India. Landsat data was employed for preparing LU&LC maps from the Google Earth Engine (GEE) using the random forest (RF) method for the period 2005-2020 with the accuracy of 91% and kappa coefficient of 0.89. The future scenarios of LU&LC’s were projected by integrating Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM) data and DynaCLUE model for 2030, 2050 and 2080. DynaCLUE model uses driving factors, Binary Logistic Regression analysis for past LU&LC maps for projecting future LU&LC maps. The SWAT model is calibrated and validated for the period 1983–2017 in SWAT-CUP using the SUFI2 algorithm for 2015 LU&LC map. The future projected LU&LC maps based on SSP’s are incorporated in SWAT model for future periods under both RCP 4.5 & 8.5 scenarios. The average monthly streamflow’s are simulated for the baseline period (1983–2005) and for three future periods, namely the near future (2021–2039), mid future (2040–2069) and far future (2070–2099) under both LU&LC and climate change scenarios. Results indicate that there is increase in surface runoff and water yield and decrease in evapotranspiration, groundwater and total aquifer for three SSP scenarios under both RCP’s. Assessing the impact on water balance components, provides the necessity for adaptive strategies in the face of shifting climate and land use dynamics.

How to cite: Kotapati Narayanaswamy, L., Keesara, V. R., and Buri, E. S.: Synergies of Land Use Land Cover and Climate Change on Water Balance Components in SSP–RCP Scenarios over Munneru basin, India, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-7209,, 2024.

Francis E. Oussou, Souleymane Sy, Jan Bliefernicht, Harald Kunstmann, Thomas Rummler, Nicaise Yalo, and Yinusa Ayodele Asiwaju-Bello

The land cover degradation in the Anthropocene under a changing climate threat remains one of the significant concern for water resources preservation and planning. The reciprocal effects of land degradation and climate change is reported as a complex scenario with direct and indirect impact on land surface processes (IPCC, 2023). The purpose of this work is to simulate the water fluxes and states under the anthopogenic influence (control - CTRL) and natural evergreen (EBF) conditions using the hydrological model WRF-Hydro with NoahMP as the Land Surface Model (LSM). The change in the temporal and spatial patterns is evaluated in terms of the potential impact associated with preserving the natural land cover in WA. To achieve this, the offline mode of WRF-Hydro is forced with meteorological dataset from ERA5-land for the two land cover scenarios at ~11km spatial resolution between 2011 and 2023. The water budget outputs are post-processed with the R package “rwrfhydro” which computes the total precipitation partitioning into surface runoff, evaporation, and water storage in the surface and subsurface components. The water budget terms are analysed with Man-Kendall’s statistics and the difference between the two scenarios evaluated using multivariate techniques (Principal component analysis - PCA and Canonical correlation analysis - CCA), and Wavelet analysis.The results show that whatever the land cover scenario the leading temporal variations of the total precipitation (PC1) have a strong relationship with the water storage (groundwater, total soil moisture, and canopy water) while lags in the signals are more likely to have higher correlation with the surface and subsurface runoff. Further, the canonical loadings of the CCA modes of the water storage terms, evaporation terms and total precipitation indicate a shift towards the dry northern part (Sahel) of the study area. Compared to the CTRL simulation, the EBF scenario decreases the runoff fraction while increases the evaporation and storage change fractions. The natural land cover scenario simulated in this study provide considerable insight into the potential benefits of land reforestation actions in West Africa and offers opportunities for better decision making.

How to cite: Oussou, F. E., Sy, S., Bliefernicht, J., Kunstmann, H., Rummler, T., Yalo, N., and Asiwaju-Bello, Y. A.: What if the deforestation stops: impact on water budget components in West Africa, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-19961,, 2024.

Posters virtual: Mon, 15 Apr, 14:00–15:45 | vHall X4

Display time: Mon, 15 Apr 08:30–Mon, 15 Apr 18:00
Chairpersons: Herlin Chien, Noemí Lana-Renault
Coupling Mechanism and Collaborative Optimization of hydrological processes and Land Space in loess hilly and gully areas
Ting Guo, Yibo Lei, Deming Gu, Yihang Yang, and Wenjing Lai
Ana María Foronda Vazquez, Héctor Lafora, Olivia Barrantes, Yolanda Pueyo, Javier Ferrer, and Ramón Reiné

In a context of global change, the mountains of southern Europe have suffered in recent decades processes of land abandonment, leading to the loss of cultural mosaic landscapes, with negative effects on ecological and economic sustainability of agroecosystems. In the framework of the MIDMACC Project (LIFE18 CCA/ES/001099), landscape management measures to adapt marginal areas of Spanish mid-mountain to the impacts of global change have been tested. In this regard, experiences of forest management measures (thinning and undergrowth scrub clearing) followed by grazing with native cattle breeds have been conducted in two reforested areas in “La Garcipollera” valley (Huesca, Spain) to create and maintain herbaceous pastures under tree canopy (one area with Pinus nigra and the other with Populus x canadensis). The effects of forest management and grazing on the floristic composition and production of the herbaceous pasture were analysed in both areas separately. For this purpose, three replicates per each of three typologies of monitoring plots with a surface of 400 m2 were established: i) control plots (without neither forest management nor livestock), ii) managed plots without livestock and iii) managed plots with livestock (2 cows per plot for 48 hours and twice a year). Vegetation surveys were conducted every spring from 2020 in the pine area and 2021 in the poplar area to 2023. In those, the coverage of the bare soil and every plant species growing within four 1m2 subplots per plot were recorded. Additionally, in order to estimate dry biomass (production of the pasture) for the initial and final stage of the experiment, at each plot we collected the plants growing within four 0,5m2 subplots adjacent to the previous. Our results indicated that, after three years of experimentation, forest management decreased the bare soil cover, increased the cover, richness and biomass of herbaceous species and reduced the cover and richness of woody species compared to the control plots. This trend was common for both the pine and poplar areas. In the case of grazing effects, we found that the entry of livestock in the plots in the managed pine areas increased the bare soil cover and herbaceous plants cover and richness but reduced the biomass production and the woody species cover (thus controlling scrub encroachment). Regarding plots in the managed poplar areas, grazing affects differently from pine areas since no significant effects on herbaceous nor woody species cover and richness were found compared to control plots (shorter study period). Nevertheless, a positive effect of grazing was found since bare soil cover was reduced and herbaceous biomass production was increased compared to the plots with no livestock entry. Although in the mid-term (three/two years after the measures) the whole expected effects of grazing are not yet evident, the improvement of the herbaceous species and the control of scrub encroachment by cattle are apparent.

Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the LIFE MIDMACC (LIFE18 CCA/ES/001099), funded by the EC.

How to cite: Foronda Vazquez, A. M., Lafora, H., Barrantes, O., Pueyo, Y., Ferrer, J., and Reiné, R.: Restoration of pastures under tree canopy: effects of the undergrowth clearing and grazing in the maintenance of herbaceous species diversity and production , EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-16826,, 2024.