Climate change is expected to increase pressures on water use between different sectors (e.g. agriculture, energy, industry, domestic uses) and ecosystems. While climate change impacts on water availability have been studied widely, less work has been done to assess impacts on water quality. This study proposes a modelling framework to incorporate water quality in analyses of cross-sectoral conflicts for water between human uses and ecosystems under climate change and socio-economic changes. We illustrate this with an example that shows that increasing river temperatures and declines in summer low flow under climate change are likely to increase environmental restrictions on cooling water use, with substantial reductions in power plant capacities in Europe and the US. Hence, conflicts between environmental objectives and electricity supply are expected to increase due to both changes in water availability and water quality (water temperature) under climate change. A new impact modelling framework is proposed, which integrates relations between water availability, water quality and cross-sectoral water uses, including water requirements for ecosystems. This could provide improved understanding of how climate change and socioeconomic developments will affect the ‘water-energy-food-ecosystem nexus’. Index Terms—river flow, water temperature, water quality, climate change, socio-economic developments, human water use, ecosystems
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