Towards a global water scarcity risk assessment framework: Incorporation of probability distributions and hydro-climatic variability

T. I.E. Veldkamp, Y. Wada, J. C.J.H. Aerts, P. J. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations

Abstract

Changing hydro-climatic and socioeconomic conditions increasingly put pressure on fresh water resources and are expected to aggravate water scarcity conditions towards the future. Despite numerous calls for risk-based water scarcity assessments, a global-scale framework that includes UNISDR's definition of risk does not yet exist. This study provides a first step towards such a risk-based assessment, applying a Gamma distribution to estimate water scarcity conditions at the global scale under historic and future conditions, using multiple climate change and population growth scenarios. Our study highlights that water scarcity risk, expressed in terms of expected annual exposed population, increases given all future scenarios, up to >56.2% of the global population in 2080. Looking at the drivers of risk, we find that population growth outweigh the impacts of climate change at global and regional scales. Using a risk-based method to assess water scarcity, we show the results to be less sensitive than traditional water scarcity assessments to the use of fixed threshold to represent different levels of water scarcity. This becomes especially important when moving from global to local scales, whereby deviations increase up to 50% of estimated risk levels.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-09-18

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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