The Messara valley encompasses an area of 400 km2 located in the central-south area of Crete, Greece. About 250km2 of the total valley area is cultivated and the remaining area (higher grounds) is used for livestock.

The growth of agriculture in the Messara plain has a strong impact on the water resources and ecosystem services of the area by substantially increasing water demand. The economy of the region is based on agriculture with intensive cultivation of mainly olive trees, grapes, citrus, and vegetables in green houses. The overexploitation of the aquifer has reduced water availability as groundwater is a major resource for irrigation. Soil degradation and salinisation are also important issues of the wider area.

The Directorate of Water of the Decentralised Administration of Crete is the main instrument of policy development and application in the region of Crete. The distribution of water is carried out by the Local Organisations of Land Reclamation. The Organisation for the Development of Crete S.A. is a governmental organisation responsible for studding, planning, constructing and managing of hydraulic infrastructures. Local agro-industrial cooperatives are also involved in product/commodity exploitation and are directly dependent on the availability of freshwater resources.

In the frame of the IMPREX project we exploited the potential applicability of seasonal forecasts in local water governance and management through an operational tool tailored to local user needs.

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This case study introduced the advanced forecasting information developed in the frame of IMPREX to local users.

We tested the efficiency of seasonal forecasting on monitoring and predicting hydrological and agricultural drought and to put the concept of forecasting into the water resources management practice.

Tools and models

The main focus for the study site was on developing:

  • Tailored drought monitoring indices for rain-fed agriculture.
  • Seasonal forecasts of droughts through a drought monitoring and prediction tool supporting local Drought Management Plans.
  • Seasonal forecasts of Faneromeni Dam inflow through hydrologic simulation to support management of freshwater resources and drought impacts on irrigated agriculture.



Photos courtesy of Ioannis Daliakopoulos, Technical University of Crete


Different methods to increase the skill of hydro-meteorological variables over Europe in operational forecasts are investigated. In particular, a method to capitalize on skillful NAO forecasts based on analogues and various techniques to create an ensemble are investigated at the seasonal timescale. At the same timescale, the skill at the scale of a basin catchment over Crete is also investigated. Furthermore, the skill of sub-seasonal forecasts over Europe and the use of integrated vapour transport to improve long-range weather forecast are also investigated. Whilst the results vary between studies, the skill associated with precipitation generally remains low.

Read the full case study.