The effect of climate change on precipitation and discharge will strongly differ between Northern and Southern Europe. In Central Europe, precipitation amount will only slightly differ from present conditions but seasonality will change, with an increase in winter precipitation. In Southern Europe, seasonality will show similar changes but total precipitation amount will decrease up to 20%, increasing the risk of droughts (IPCC 2007, CIS WFD 2009).

On the basis of current scientific knowledge, it is not expected that, within an engineering timeframe, climate change will have a direct effect on river ecosystems that can be clearly distinguished from other human pressures (CIS WFD 2009). Therefore, it is important to disentangle the effects of climate change and local anthropogenic pressures, to assess the effect of local (reach-scale) or catchment scale restoration measures compared to the effect of climate change, which is a global phenomenon.

An important note : In the IMPACT project, the effect of climate change on discharge will be considered. The effect of changes in (water) temperature will not be covered.