Climate change and agricultural water resources: A vulnerability assessment of the Black Sea catchment

by Rebecca Herrera

Agriculture in the Black Sea catchment is a large share of the region’s economy and will experience a number of changes thanks to climate change. Bär et al. designed a new climate and agriculture assessment combining two popular techniques in order to better assess the vulnerability of the Black Sea catchment’s agriculture. By combining the DPSIR and the vulnerability concept, Bär et al. were able to see that rising temperatures, decreased precipitation, or both created different outcomes across the catchment. While plant growth conditions mostly improve across the Black Sea catchment with rising temperatures, decreased precipitation and decreased irrigation potential caused deteriorating agricultural conditions.

By constructing a combination of the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) model and a vulnerability assessment, the researchers create a more suitable and operationalized model framework. DPSIR shows the causal relationships between elements, as drivers create pressures that change states and create impacts that warrant responses. Researches identify one of the parameters of DISPR and follow it through the chain of drivers, pressures, states, impacts, and responses to ultimately assess how a driver effects the rest of the ecosystem and how to best mitigate said driver. Vulnerability assessments on the other hand show what areas are susceptible, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes.

Bär et al. model climate change by increasing temperatures by 3° (TC), decreasing daily precipitation by 30% (PC), and through a combination of the two (CC). The potential number of annual plant growth days are positively affected by TC and CC, as higher temperatures reduces the number of days per annum where temperatures are two low for plant growth. Water stress increases in all three climate scenarios when compared to the present as overall irrigation potential decreases as does the number of additional plant growth days that can be gained from additional irrigation. Agricultural vulnerability, the change in total number of plant growth days, increases in the TC scenario and decreases in the PC scenario. Across the Black Sea catchment, some areas become more vulnerable while others, mostly mountainous regions, become less vulnerable under the CC scenario.

Creating a usable comprehensive DPSIR and vulnerability model carries significance allowing scientists and policy-makers to better plan for the future of ecosystems and agriculture, within and outside the Black Sea catchment.

Bär, R., Rouholahnejad, E., Rahman, K., Abbaspour, K.C., et al. 2014. Climate change and agricultural water resources: a vulnerability assessment of the Black Sea catchment. Environmental Science and Policy, 46, 57-69.

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