Modelling the effects of land use and climate changes on hydrology in the Ursern Valley, Switzerland

Alaoui, Abdallah; Willimann, Elias; Jasper, K.; Felder, Guido; Herger, F.; Magnusson, J.; Weingartner, Rolf (2014). Modelling the effects of land use and climate changes on hydrology in the Ursern Valley, Switzerland. Hydrological processes, 28(10), pp. 3602-3614. Wiley 10.1002/hyp.9895

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While many studies have been conducted in mountainous catchments to examine the impact of climate change on hydrology, the interactions between climate changes and land use components have largely unknown impacts on hydrology in alpine regions. They need to be given special attention in order to devise possible strategies concerning general development in these regions. Thus, the main aim was to examine the impact of land use (i.e. bushland expansion) and climate changes (i.e. increase of temperature) on hydrology by model simulations. For this purpose, the physically based WaSiM-ETH model was applied to the catchment of Ursern Valley in the central Alps (191 km2) over the period of 1983−2005. Modelling results showed that the reduction of the mean monthly discharge during the summer period is due primarily to the retreat of snow discharge in time and secondarily to the reduction in the glacier surface area together with its retreat in time, rather than the increase in the evapotranspiration due to the expansion of the “green alder” on the expense of grassland. The significant decrease in summer discharge during July, August and September shows a change in the regime from b-glacio-nival to nivo-glacial. These changes are confirmed by the modeling results that attest to a temporal shift in snowmelt and glacier discharge towards earlier in the year: March, April and May for snowmelt and May and June for glacier discharge. It is expected that the yearly total discharge due to the land use changes will be reduced by 0.6% in the near future, whereas, it will be reduced by about 5% if climate change is also taken into account. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Hydrology
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR) > MobiLab
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Alaoui, Abdallah, Felder, Guido, Weingartner, Rolf


900 History > 910 Geography & travel
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

28 May 2014 12:04

Last Modified:

16 Feb 2023 10:27

Publisher DOI:





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