Author(s): Maria Jose Polo; Rafael Pimentel; Pedro Torralbo; Javier Aparicio; Eva Contreras; Javier Herrero; Cristina Aguilar; Maria Jose Perez-Palazon
Keywords: Snow; Global warming; Reservoir operation; Water resource management; Mediterranean regions
Abstract: Mountain areas play a key role in water delivery during spring and summer in Mediterranean regions, especially where snow presence dominates the hydrological regime. Different impacts of global warming have reported in these areas, with not always significant trends of the major climate drivers of snowfall occurrence, but rather an usually clear shift towards torrentiality of both snowfall and snow persistence. These effects have clear implications for water resource planning and reservoir operation on different time scales. This work presents our work in Sierra Nevada-Spain and highlights the importance of sublimation in Mediterranean mountain areas, as well as the strong variability of the seasonal and annual components of the energy and water balance in these regions. The results pose reasonable questions about the future of water availability during the warm and dry seasons in the study site, where the paradigm of snowpacks being a water reservoir is also addressed. Finally, the major implications for decision making processes in the framework of reservoir operation and water resource planning are identified.