KWR rapport - KWR 2013.088

Ecohydrological Stress - Groundwater To Stress Transfer


Researchers from KWR Watercycle Research Institute and the VU University Amsterdam have been collaborating in the project ‘Biodiversity in a changing environment: predicting spatio-temporal dynamics of vegetation’ (of the Dutch national research programme Climate change Spatial Planning). The main objective of the project, which ran from 2005 – 2012, was to predict the effects of climate change on the spatial distribution of ecosystems. In order to do so, researchers aimed at a habitat distribution model, named PROBE , based on climate-robust relationships. PROBE allows to predict the impact of climate change and of adaptive measures, especially in water management, on vegetation composition. The model output supplies organizations that are responsible for the conservation of nature (e.g. drinking water companies, nature organizations and governmental bodies) with spatial information to evaluate, conserve and create biodiversity.
In the framework of PROBE, process-based habitat factors for soil moisture and their relationships with vegetation characteristics have been developed. The results have been published in several peer- reviewed journals and a PhD-thesis. We have shown that our process-based habitat factors oxygen stress (OS) and drought stress (DS) outcompete more traditional and relatively simple habitat factors. We therefore advocate to use OS and DS in ecohydrological impact assessments.
However, in order to acquire these climate versatile habitat factors, extensive modelling and specific knowledge is required. Therefore, we developed GTST (Groundwater to Stress Transfer), a tool to derive soil- and climate specific transfer functions between groundwater level characteristics and OS and DS. Once transfer functions have been derived for the soil types and climate in a specific area, measured or modelled groundwater levels can be easily transferred to OS and DS, which are input for ecohydrological prediction models like PROBE.

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