Climate, irrigation and land-cover change explain streamflow trends in Western Europe
Reduced water resources availability is one of the most serious impacts of climate change since reductions in streamflow may cause noticeable ecological and socioeconomic impacts. However, attribution of streamflow trends to climate change is complex given the influence of other drivers of catchment change, including human and vegetation water uses, agriculture, and land use change. We show that for northwestern Europe most observed trends in annual streamflow are associated with climate change. However, in southwestern Europe there is a clear mismatch between observed trends in river flows and climate, with increasing vegetation and/or irrigated agriculture better explaining observed changes. Our results highlight the importance of human management in explaining large‐scale hydrological trends and the need to carefully evaluate both climate and land use changes to disentangle drivers of streamflow trends.