Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation - Cross-regional Research Programme (Project C - Water)

Background and Goals

In the next 100 years, greater climatic fluctuations from year to year, new precipitation patterns, droughts and changes in seasonal river flow properties will affect large numbers of water users in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation project is studying climate effects and possible adaptation strategies using case studies in two contrasting regions of the United Kingdom.

Objective is to develop a practical guideline to the management of water resources under changing climatic conditions.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Great Britain

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

The assessment of future climate effects is based on UKCIP02, which forecasts warming of between 1 and 3.5°C and reductions in precipitation of between 0 and 11% by 2080 for the United Kingdom.

Parameter (climate signals)
  • River flooding
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Low water
  • Dry periods
Further Parameters 


Time horizon
  • long term = to 2100 and beyond

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

The influence of climate change on the demand for public water provision is relatively low compared to possible impacts of social and economic changes. On the other hand, the effects on the availability of water could be much greater, particularly as a result of reductions in the amount of water flow in the summer. In agriculture, increasing water demand is expected due to rising deficiency in soil moisture in summer. Other effects include increasing drought periods and changes in water quality due to low river levels.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The aim is to ensure the water supply. Measures are:

  • Better management of drought risks.
  • Drought forecasts and warnings, and "drought communication": restriction of water use when drought occurs.
  •  Better management of water storage and networking of water resource systems to make the entire water supply more resistant to drought.

Objective ist to guaranteeing the water supply

Time horizon
  • 2051–2080 (far future)


Funding / Financing 

Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Project management 

HR Wallingford Limited


HR Wallingford UK
Howbery Park

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  water regime, water management