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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs