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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs