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The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) does not explicitly consider the implications of climate change in detail. However, there is the potential to explore these implications by carefully defining ‘ecological status’ and through the adaptive management guidelines of the Directive. Incorporating climate change in operating the Directive, requires climatesensitive integration of geomorphological, hydrological and ecological functional links through new research at the catchment scale. The starting point for such research is the existing range of river typologies and classifications from all three disciplines.