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Global Climate Change and River-Riverine Ecosystems


The Influence of Global Climate Change on River-Riverine Ecosystems in Temperate Zone

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment
  • ENV-OTH/Other/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Scientific and Practical Centre for Bioresources National Academy of Sciences, Belarus, Minsk

Supporting institutes

  • Brest State Technical University, Belarus, Brest\nNational Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus / Institute of Experimental Botanic named after V.F. Kuprevich, Belarus, Minsk\nB.I. Stepanov Institute of Physics, Belarus, Minsk\nInstitute for Nature Management National Academy of Sciences, Belarus, Minsk


  • AMECO, The Netherlands, Utrecht\nUmveltforschungszentrum Leipzig-Halle GmbH, Germany, Leipzig

Project summary

The Project aim. The main aim of the project is the creation of Risk Assessment tools and GIS model for studying and modelling of Global Climate Change influence on hydrological, hydromorphlogical and biological processes in the river and riverine ecosystems in the temperate zone.

Current status. The latest analysis of Global Climate Change (GCC) influence on water resources shows some very robust tendencies for many earth regions and highlights the most essential activities for preservation of water resources (Bates, B.C., Z.W. Kundzewicz, S. Wu and J.P. Palutikof, Eds., 2008: Climate Change and Water. Technical Paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Secretariat, Geneva, 210 pp.). As part of this effort, the development of indicators of climate change impacts on freshwater, and operational systems to monitor them, that describe flood consequences as the most common natural disaster in Europe and regional climatic models – the most important models for water management, are required.

The project aims to solve the tasks formulated on the basis of IPCC recommendation (Bates, B.C. et al., 2008) for further work on detection of present-day hydrological change caused by GCC on water resources. Different climate scenarios will be developed to assess the impacts of possible climate changes on river and riverine ecosystems and to give necessary information for management.

To date, observations have been made only on temperature dynamics and water level at some monitoring sites along the largest rivers of Belarus and fragmentary data is available on the bog and forest ecosystems. The analysis of these data allows to conclude the following:

  • Climate change in Belarus has led to transformation of within-year water yield on rivers of different types;
  • Precipitation changes vary substantially from season to season;
  • An upward trend in water levels and floods is observed in midsummer;
  • The increase of winter temperature and decreasing precipitation has led to changes in the snow cover and water level;

An increasing invasion of alien animal and plant species is observed.

The participants have initial data necessary for implementation of some project activities: 1) about long-term climate and hydrological observations; 2) about some hydrochemical parameters; 3) about invasive alien species distribution; 4) Risk Assessment for invasive alien species.

The project’s influence on progress in this area. Developing Risk Assessment tools and a GIS model will provide a basis for forecasting of possible consequences of GCC for hydrological, hydromorphlogical and biological processes in the river and riverine ecosystems in the temperate zone based on the case study for Belarus. This forecasting will be made for the rivers of different order. The modern GIS and remote sensing technologies will be used for creation of a model for simulation of different scenarios.

The participants’ expertise. SPCB. The leading Institute includes weapon specialists who can develop GIS for main river and riverine ecosystems of Belarus considering climatic trends caused by GCC. The other specialists can participate in creation of tools for forecasting of animal river biota’s response to GCC and conduct hydromorphologycal and hydrochemical studies. The high scientific level of participants is confirmed by scientific publications, contributions to international journals and participation in international conferences and projects (Sixth Framework Programme: ALARM and DAISIE). This information is available at

IEB. The participants of IEB will study the plant biota’s response to GCC to create Risk assessment tools for riverine ecosystems. These specialists took part in international projects: Belarus-World Bank, UNDP-GEF and others. This information is available

INM. The INM participants can develop a model of different climatic scenarios for temperate zone areas based on the case study for Belarus. They are the leading experts on climate change not only in the Belarus but in the whole of Eastern Europe. This information is available at

BSTU. The BSTU scientists have great experience in the study of hydrological processes and can develop scenarios of hydrological situation for rivers of different order, based on the case study for Belarus. This information is available at Specialists of all organizations use received standard methods in work.

IP. The IP scientists are experienced in studying of atmospheric phenomena. Together with INM participants they will develop the climatic scenarios taking into account precipitation, fume and warming of low-layer atmosphere. This information is available at The list of main publication is enclosed.

Expected results and their application. The main results to be achieved are as follows:

  • Long term data analysis of changes in regional watersheds of Belarus. This will provide a basis for creation of climatic and hydrological scenarios.
  • Field studies of rivers of different order and their associated ecosystems to obtain data on hydrological, hydromorphological and biological processes.
  • Identification of consequences of hydrological changes for fish, fish spawning areas and flood-land communities to forecast of changes in river and riverine biota and to establish a system of indicators in accordance with the DPSIR scheme.
  • GIS analysis and Risk Assessment for riverine ecosystems will establish a basis for preparation of proposals on adaptation of fisheries, agricultural and forest management to the climate change.

Additional results of the project will be included in the GIS model for simulation of possible GCC influence on the river ecosystems.

Application. The project results can be used for forecasting of possible GCC consequences for hydrological régime and ecosystems of rivers in temperate zone and for management decisions. The Ministry of Forest Management and the Department of Fishery of Belarus have sent letters expressing their interest in this study. The letters are enclosed.

Meeting the ISTC goals and objectives. The project corresponds to the main ISTC goals since:

  • it provides an opportunity for the weapons scientists and engineers who are to participate in this project to use their knowledge and technology in the field of physical optics, diagnostic gas discharge physics and remote sensing technologies for peaceful purposes
  • it encourages the integration of these scientists and engineers in international scientific community by participation in international conferences and workshops
  • it supports fundamental and applied research and development of technology for peaceful purposes, especially in the field of environmental protection and management under global climatic changes
  • it facilitates the solving of social and economic problems on the national and international level (fishery, agriculture, forestry, flood consequences for population)
  • it supports activities aimed meeting human needs.

Scope of activities. The multiple approach assumed for implementation of this project requires specialists from different fields to participate in it:. Remote Sensing, Satellite Image Interpretation, GPS Technology, Climate, Atmosphere processes, Hydrology, Hydrochemistry, Hydrobiology, Ichthyology and Botany. To obtain reliable data it is essential to conduct numerous field studies during different seasons. The primary costs (time costs and financial costs) are associated with climate model development, remote sensing data interpretation, field works, sample processing.

The list of activities to be implemented under the project includes:

  • analysis of long-term climate change and hydrological situation on watersheds for the creation of climatic scenarios;
  • study of hydrochemical and hydrological changes in the rivers of different order and their influence on biological communities;
  • assessment of changes in flood-land productivity and macrophytes development under different hydrological regimes;
  • assessment of influence of hydrological changes on fish and fish-spawning areas;
  • study of relationships between biological invasion and hydrochemical parameters;
  • employment of remote sensing, GPS system and GIS software for watershed analysis;
  • creation regional climate model;
  • assessment of cascade effects and hotspots on the studied area;
  • creation of Risk Assessment tools and a GIS model; preparation of proposals on adaptation of fisheries, agricultural and forest management to climate change;
  • presentation of results to the international scientific community.

Role of Foreign Collaborators. Dr Josef Settele has expressed his wish to become a collaborator for this Project. Dr Settele has extensive experience in climate change and its influence on terrestrial ecosystems. He was a scientific coordinator for the ALARM Project (6th Framework Programme). The main role of Dr Josef Settele as a collaborator is to:
  • perform exchange of information during project implementation;
  • participate in joint seminars and consultations;
  • participate in on-site technical monitoring is also possible if required.

Dr. H.A.W. Kleinjans has experience in strategic environmental policy, substances, safety, biotechnology, new technologies and environment, implementation of European environmental policy. His part will be to:
  • present the Ameco project results for implementation of the project in question;
  • participate in joint seminars.

Technical approach and methodology. The use of remote sensing together with GPS system will enable the development of watersheds analysis by GIS technology. This analysis will be carried out by different methods - Standard methods of remote sensing data Pattern Recognition, Standard methods of Global Navigation Satellite System measurements and digital surveying, Standard methods of GIS development and spatial analyses, Standard methods of digital maps development and digital surveying, Standard methods of spatial analyses, Program code development. Assessment of global climate change impacts on river and riverine ecosystems will be carried out with the employment of multiple analyses for creation of different scenarios under climate change. These scenarios will develop with using of the output of coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation models furnished by WCRP CMIP3(World Climate Research Programme, (CMIP3) – phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project). Risk Assessment tools for river and riverine ecosystems will be developed using DPSIR scheme. It will be a basis for estimation consequence of climate change on economic development of agricultural and forest activities in the studied region and will be model to other like temperate regions.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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