REFRESH - Adaptive strategies to Mitigate the Impacts of Climate Change on European Freshwater Ecosystems
Understanding how freshwater ecosystems will respond to future climate change is essential for the development of policies and implementation strategies needed to protect aquatic and riparian ecosystems. The future status of freshwater ecosystems is however, also dependent on changes in land-use, pollution loading and water demand. In addition the measures that need to be taken to restore freshwater ecosystems to good ecological health or to sustain priority species need to be designed either to adapt to future climate change or to mitigate the effects of climate change. REFRESH is concerned with generating the scientific understanding that enables such measures to be implemented successfully.The key objective of the REFRESH project is to develop a system that will enable water managers to design cost-effective restoration programmes for freshwater ecosystems at the local and catchment scales. This will account for the expected future impacts of climate change and land-use change in the context of the Water Framework and Habitats Directives. At its centre is a process-based evaluation of the specific adaptive measures that might be taken at these different scales to minimise the expected adverse consequences of climate change on freshwater quantity, quality and biodiversity. The focus is on three principal climate-related and interacting pressures; i) increasing temperature; ii) changes in water levels and flow regimes; and ii) excess nutrients. We focus primarily on lowland systems as those often pose the most difficult problems in meeting both the requirements of the WFD and Habitats Directive.