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Climate, Irrigation, and Land Cover Change Explain Streamflow Trends in Countries Bordering the Northeast Atlantic

AuthorsVicente Serrano, Sergio M. CSIC ORCID ; Peña-Gallardo, Marina CSIC ORCID; Hannaford, Jamie; Murphy, C.; Lorenzo-Lacruz, Jorge CSIC ORCID; Domínguez-Castro, Fernando CSIC ORCID; López‐Moreno, José Ignacio; Beguería, Santiago CSIC ORCID ; Noguera, Iván CSIC ORCID; Harrigan, S.; Vidal, Jean-Philippe
Issue DateOct-2019
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
John Wiley & Sons
CitationVicente-Serrano SM, Peña-Gallardo M, Hannaford J, Murphy C, Lorenzo-Lacruz J, Domínguez-Castro F, López-Moreno JI, Beguería S, Noguera I, Harrigan S, Vidal JP. Climate, Irrigation, and Land Cover Change Explain Streamflow Trends in Countries Bordering the Northeast Atlantic. Geophysical Research Letters 46 (19): 10821-10833 (2019)
AbstractAttribution of trends in streamflow is complex, but essential, in identifying optimal management options for water resources. Disagreement remains on the relative role of climate change and human factors, including water abstractions and land cover change, in driving change in annual streamflow. We construct a very dense network of gauging stations (n = 1,874) from Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Portugal for the period of 1961–2012 to detect and then attribute changes in annual streamflow. Using regression‐based techniques, we show that climate (precipitation and atmospheric evaporative demand) explains many of the observed trends in northwest Europe, while for southwest Europe human disturbances better explain both temporal and spatial trends. For the latter, large increases in irrigated areas, agricultural intensification, and natural revegetation of marginal lands are inferred to be the dominant drivers of decreases in streamflow.
Description13 Pags.- 4 Figs. The work contributes to the UNESCO‐IHP‐VIII EURO FRIEND‐Water Programme and to the IAHS Panta Rhei initiative and the Drought in the Anthropocene Working Group. The raw streamflow data used in this study can be obtained from the web sites of the different water management agencies of Western Europe. In France from the Ministère de la Transition écologique et solidaire ( In the United Kingdom, from the National River Flow Archive ( In Ireland from the Office of Public Works (‐data/home.html) and the Environmental Protection Agency ( In Portugal from the Sistema Nacional de Informaçao de Recursos Hídricos ( In Spain from the Ministry of Agriculture's CEDEX (http://ceh‐ and the Catalan (, Basque (‐0002/es/), and Andalusian ( agencies. The temperature and precipitation gridded data can be obtained from the ECA&D site ( The ERA climate data is available in the European Centre for Medium‐Range Weather Forecasts (‐reanalysis‐datasets). Land cover data and NDVI were available from the European Union (‐european/corine‐land‐cover) and NASA (, respectively.
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