News / Science & Technology

Climate Change Affecting Water Resources

The sun is seen behind smoke billowing from a chimney of a heating plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi province December 9, 2013.
The sun is seen behind smoke billowing from a chimney of a heating plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi province December 9, 2013.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Scientists say climate change will not affect all regions of the world equally – especially when it comes to fresh water. The latest computer models indicate some places will get a lot less, while others get a lot more.


Dr. Jacob Schewe and his colleagues say that “water scarcity is a major threat for human development” if greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked. They’ve published their findings in a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The reason we’re concerned is that it’s a very important issue for a lot of people. We all depend on water for so many different purposes," he said. "And water scarcity, where it exists, really impairs many things that people do and that people live on.”

Schewe works at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He said the “steepest increase of global water scarcity” could happen if global warming rises two to three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That could happen, he said, in the next few decades.

“Under climate change, patterns of precipitation, patterns of temperature, of evaporation, and all these variables are going to change. And that means changes will occur in the hydrological cycles and the water cycle of the planet," he said.  "And it will of course affect the availability of water around the world. So the question is in which way it will affect the water availability and will it make water even more scare in a given region, in a given place or will it lead to more water being available?”

Schewe gives some examples of where he believes the computer models are accurate.

“One example,” he said, “is the Mediterranean region. Most of the models really project a strong drying. So much less water being available. That’s mainly southern Europe, northern Africa. So these places will be affected most probably by a reduction in water availability. Another strong signal in the opposite direction is in the high northern latitudes, so, Siberia, northern Canada. These places will probably get more water.”

He said countries such as Israel, Turkey, Spain and Morocco could see as much as a 50-percent reduction from what they have now.

Findings given a medium to high confidence rating indicate that the southern United States will become drier. But there are many areas where the models disagree. And it can be difficult to develop a model that fits a particular region. One such region is West Africa’s Niger Delta.

Nevertheless, Schewe said he hopes policymakers take notice of the findings so far.

“One thing that we hope will happen is that not only national policymakers will consider them, but actually also the people who are busy with the policy negotiations about climate change mitigation. The best way to cope with it is simply not to let it happen, right? And you can still avoid a lot of these changes by simply mitigating climate change,” he said.

Agriculture is the biggest consumer of freshwater.

He said, “if you have a country that depends a lot on agriculture, where you’ve got a lot of agriculture, and you see that the water resources will go down in the future, then maybe now you still have some time to find the resources, find the funding, develop the technologies or buy the technologies and to use the water more efficiently. And also, to put regulations in place to avoid overuse of the resources -- and to distribute it evenly across the different users.”

Schewe is calling on more researchers to develop climate change models.

Co-author, Dr. Pavel Kabat – of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis – said if human-made climate change continues the very basis of life for millions of people will be put at risk – even under the more optimistic scenarios and models.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Scott Eastman from: Utah, USA
January 07, 2014 2:01 PM
Just like the "hole in the ozone" scare! You hardly hear of it anymore. According to the experts it takes 25-30 years for the chlorine/fluorine molecules to get from the source on the ground to the area where it damages the ozone. Beginning in 1994 when recovery was mandated and then certain refrigerants outlawed, it would suggest that the ozone should be at it's most depleted stage. Yet we haven't seen the affects predicted by the models. The only thing to come of all that hype is the huge profits of Dupont and other chemical giants. R-22 could be purchased for less than $1.00 per lb and now sells for more than $18.00 per lb. If this wasn't the most costly screw job to the public, I would like to know what was!

by: dreamcat from: USA
December 23, 2013 4:56 PM
This is not all human made. It is caused by the sun. Read this book Forgotten civilization : the role of solar outbursts in our past and future / Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D. to see that as short a time ago as 12,000 BCE, the sun caused this type of problem on earth. The green fairy tale put out is just to get money out of us. The science is not definite and not there in many cases.
In Response

by: Cameron L. Spitzer
December 26, 2013 3:28 PM
Variation in solar output (the "solar constant") contributed less than 5% of the global warming over the last century. Sunspots, flares, and CMEs contributed essentially zero. There's no controversy in science about any of that. If Dreamcat knew any scientists, or had ever worked in the hard sciences, he'd know that old lie "scientists lie to get grants" is a preposterous conspiracy theory. Scientists compete to discover each other's mistakes. False science goes far on the Limbaugh show, but it goes nowhere in real life.

by: Stan EV from: NV, USA
December 23, 2013 12:55 PM
It would be good if people would actually take mass action after reading articles like this....unlikely.

Get out of your car, walk, bike, ebike, transit or EV about.

Most likely, new property for sale in Alaska, Canada and Siberia.

by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama, TKO
December 20, 2013 7:19 PM
I think it's very understandable that the water availability will change in the future because of the planet scale climate change. That's why we have desert area and water rich area now, and of course these area will be shifted in the far future by the global climate change.

That change will occur in the very long time, so we human can adopt it gradually and there is no need to use any technologies to adopt it.

Poor scientists always scare us using the phrase "climate change" or "global warming", but it means nothing.
In Response

by: Annabel Sanchez from: Argao, Cebu, Philippines
December 22, 2013 6:12 PM
I've kept track on Limate Change issue at VOA like Global warming in the pacific and those discussed in Poland. I find it very alarming! Glad to say that I've planted a hundred pots of Mahogany which are at 2 years now that will soon generate oxygen.

Sincerely,
Annabel C. sanchez
Lapay, Argao, Cebu, Philippines

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More