| Project of the Month - September 2010


The goal of the ACQWA project (Assessing Climate impacts on the Quality and the quantity of WAter) is to quantify how water resources in vulnerable mountain regions, particularly those where snow and ice is a major control on runoff, may change in a warming climate. The project further aims to assess how shifts in water amount and seasonality may affect key economic actors such as agriculture, energy, tourism or mining, and how potential rivalries between these actors may be alleviated through improved water governance.
Acronym: ACQWA
Title: Assessing Climate impacts on the Quality and the quantity of WAter
Framework Programme: 7th Framework Programme – Environment (including climate change)
Duration: October 2008 – September 2013 (60 months)
Budget: 6.5 million Euros
Website: http://www.acqwa.ch
Coordinator: University of Geneva, Switzerland (Professor Martin Beniston)
Contact person: Dr. Markus Stoffel, Project Director, e-mail:

Short project description

Scientific aspects

  • To assess the vulnerability of water resources to a warmer climate in mountain regions where snow and ice is a major component of the hydrological cycle

    • water in these regions will be vulnerable due to reduced snow and ice volumes
  • The primary objective is to use, refine, and develop numerical models to help understand interlinks between earth system components:

    • climate, hydrology, cryosphere, biosphere
  • To predict the evolution of these systems over the next 50 years

    • closer to targets useful for water managers and policy compared to 2100
  • To assess the potential impacts on:

    • Extreme events
    • Energy
    • Agriculture
    • Tourism
    • Mining
  • To identify possible conflicts of interest among economic actors, in the context of a resource that may become rarer in a warmer climate
  • To assess how such conflicts could be resolved through improved governance
  • To propose adaptation options for risk minimization

Expected project outcomes

  • Scenarios to explore particular vulnerabilities of high mountain areas and competitive aspects of water use among different sectors and regions
  • Evaluation of the costs and benefits of water allocation schemes for different sectors and different regions
  • Scenarios exploring different policy options at local and regional levels to reduce water deficits within sectors and to equitably distribute water among users and sectors.
  • Comparisons between European and non-European mountain regions (Central Asia, Argentine and Chilean Andes) to determine whether or not production technologies, consumption patterns, and regulatory frameworks developed in Europe can be successfully adopted elsewhere

Partner institutions

The partnership includes 37 partners (some within the same academic or research organization), in 10 countries on 3 continents. The list of partners are provided below; more information on each of the partners is available via www.acqwa.ch.

  • University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland: Coordination + 3 partners
  • AGROSCOPE, Swiss Federal Agronomic Research Station, Tänikon, Switzerland
  • ARPA-Piemonte (ARPAPMNT), Environmental Authority, Piemonte Region, Turin, Italy
  • ARPA-Val d’Aosta (ARPAVDA), Environmental Authority, Val d’Aosta Region, Aosta, Italy
  • Universität für Bodenkultur (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
  • Arid Zones Research Institute (CEAZA), La Serena, Chile
  • Centre for Scientific Studies (CECS), Valdivia, Chile
  • Centre d’Etudes de la Neige (CEN), Grenoble, France
  • Instituto Torcuado di Tella (ITDT), Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • CESI-Ricerca (CESI-R), Milan, Italy
  • University of l’Aquila (UNIAQ), L’Aquila, Italy
  • CNRS-LGP, Paris, France (3 partners)
  • Pyrenean Institute for Ecology (CSIC), Zaragoza, Spain
  • Compagnie Valdotaine des Eaux (CVA), Aosta, Italy
  • Italian Energy Authority (ENEL), Rome, Italy
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) , Zurich, Switzerland (3 partners)
  • Foundation for Mountain Security (FONDMS), Courmayeur, Italy
  • International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy
  • Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Climate (ISAC-CNR), Turin, Italy
  • Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences (KNAS), Bichkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA), Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • Monterosastar Cable Car Company (MONTEROSASTAR), Macugnaga, Italy
  • Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology (MPG), Hamburg, Germany
  • Gran Paradiso National Park (PNGP), Val d’Aosta, Italy
  • Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI), Milano, Italy
  • University of Berne (UNIBE), Berne, Switzerland
  • University of Birmingham (BHAM), Birmingham, UK
  • Graduate Institute for International Studies and Development (HEID), Geneva, Switzerland
  • University of Graz (UNIGRAZ), Graz, Austria
  • University of Dundee (UNIVDUN), Dundee, UK



  • ACQWA Science Policy Brief Nr1

    [PDF - 212.8 kB]

     (URL: https://increast.eu/_media/ACQWAPB01.pdf)