How does climate change affect rainfall patterns?

In Spain we have been talking about water scarcity for some months now due to the restrictions being imposed in autonomous communities such as Catalonia and Andalusia, which have been experiencing a prolonged drought for more than three and five years respectively.  In order to meet the demand for water, regional governments are taking extraordinary measures such as limiting supply, building new infrastructure, or importing water from neighboring regions.

Changes in precipitation patterns are a consequence of climate change and their effects vary depending on the climatology and geographic particularities of the region affected by these changes. In fact, reduced precipitation is not the only adverse effect we are experiencing in Europe due to climate change, so we would like to talk about a lesser known process, but equally relevant to the European and Spanish context: the intensification of rainfall.

Rainfall intensification is a climatic phenomenon in which the amount of precipitation in a specific region increases over a given period of time. This can lead to runoff and erosion, affecting the availability of drinking water due to contamination of natural freshwater sources such as aquifers or river basins.

Building infrastructure such as desalination plants is important because it allows us to increase the amount of water available, but if we want to go further and solve the problems related to supply in a sustainable way it is important to design systems that promote rational use of all available resources.

That is why LIFE RESEAU seeks to adapt existing infrastructures to climate change, taking care of such a valuable resource as water without the need for major engineering works to improve its use. This is achieved through more advanced purification processes and by taking care of the sanitation networks. The use of digitisation facilitates the measurement and prediction of these events’ impacts on infrastructure and the aquatic environment in order to operate and improve networks.

Today, more than ever, it is important to invest not only in hydraulic works but also in technological innovation within them to minimize the adverse effects of climate change on the economy, biodiversity and citizens’ access to drinking water.