In the field of water cycle management, water resources managers and land use planners face the challenge of continuous changes of climate and land use in their river basins. On the one hand, these changes impact the basin’s hydrological cycle and trigger changing dynamics of its water balance components. River discharge adapts to such internal changes in terms of quantity and quality and there is a need for an integrated approach of the river basin system analysis to identify and model the impacts resulting from these adaptations. On the other hand, little is known about the complex interaction of land use and climate changes in macro-scale river basins (> 10.000 km²) because their response time usually exceeds the available monitoring periods of hydro-meteorological time series from field stations.
The project faced these challenges by developing an integrated assessment and analysis methodology in the macro-scale pilot river basins of the upper Brahmaputra river basin (UBRB) and the upper Danube river basin (UDRB). It was funded by the FP6 and implemented between 2006 and 2009. The consortium comprised 16 partners from Europe and South-East Asia, and it was coordinated by the Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) in Jena Germany.
The main outcomes of the project have been published online and two decision information support tools (DIST) have been generated, the BRAHMAPUTRA/DANUBE River Basin Information System (BrahmaRBIS & DanubeRBIS). These web-based information systems are based on the River Basin Information System (RBIS) software that is now part of the ILMS toolset. This is a disseminating tool that centralizes all the data related to the river basin analysis thereby providing decision support to decision makers and water managers. Based on input assumptions related to Land Use or Climate, the Information System provides indicators for measuring the impact of these assumptions on the river basin. The regional authorities and stakeholders are in charge of the continuous update of the database which makes the whole tool useful. Data processed by the ILMS toolset and outcomes generated for the impact assessments are available and accessible. The authorities and stakeholders can base their decisions on the indicators generated by the ILMS toolset when addressing issues regarding land use, climate change and water management.
The ILMS toolset has been developed mainly as open source software by the Department of Geoinformatics, Hydrology and Modelling (DGHM) at the FSU. The reliability of the toolset indicators depends on the quality of the input data and the application of the appropriate models. Furthermore, continuous update of the database must be seen as an on-going process to keep and enhance the information potential of the system.
The toolset is available for the scientific community for joint research projects so that the knowledge can be shared and upgraded. At this point, further enhancement of the toolset is on-going at FSU-Jena in various applied research projects in Asia, Africa and Brazil. The more data is fed to the toolset, the more reliable its indicators will be. To this end, a number of projects are under implementation in several locations around the world such as a follow-up of the project in the Brahmaputra river involving the authorities of China, Nepal and India aiming to assist a coordinated management of the river. The project coordinator is looking forward to further international collaboration and research. The Technology Readiness Level reaches level 7 on the TRL scale.
The end-users are GO and NGO authorities, research institutions and stakeholders involved in the ILWRM and monitoring of river basins.