Abstract: Review on processes and effects of droughts and summer floods in rivers and threats due to climate change on current adaptive management and restoration efforts.
Europe is expected to experience a greater frequency of floods and droughts as precipitation and evapotranspiration patterns are modified by climate change in future. Several large scale drought and flooding events have occurred in Europe since 2000. Studies of drought are rare but indicate important impacts on freshwater habitats, water quality, plants and animals, which may have wider consequences for ecosystem functioning. The main factors determining the impacts of droughts and floods are event duration and seasonality of the event. A diverse habitat distribution and the presence of refugia at the reach scale confer the most resilience against droughts and floods. Management measures will also be impacted particularly with regard to riparian zones, channel morphology, flow and floodplain connectivity. However there is a conflict between management actions that target the effects of drought, and those that target floods.
This report reviews information on droughts and aseasonal floods (summer floods) published since 2000 with a principal focus on small lowland rivers. Using several recent (post 2000) reviews on these topics, we describe abiotic and biotic effects of droughts and floods, providing recent European examples where possible. We explain the current status of droughts and summer floods in Europe, and where the main sources of data can be found. We highlight the threats posed by these phenomena to some of the most common current adaptive management strategies in place in the EU. To this end we use measures already described within REFRESH under Deliverables 1.1 and 1.2, and we focused solely on adaptive measures relating to riparian zones, channel morphology, flow and floodplain connectivity. As the objectives of this deliverable and Deliverable 2.7 (Report on current low flows and droughts in European rivers) are closely linked it was decided to incorporate the latter into this report.
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