Towards a global water scarcity risk assessment framework
A team of researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, IVM, led by Ted Veldkamp, PhD student in the Water and Climate Risk Department chaired by Prof. Jeroen Aerts, recently published a risk-based water scarcity assessments study in the Environmental Research Letters.
Changing hydro-climatic and socioeconomic conditions increasingly put pressure on fresh water resources and are expected to aggravate water scarcity conditions towards the future.
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. The 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.
Using a risk-based method to assess water scarcity, they 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.
T I E Veldkamp et al 2016 Environ. Res. Lett. 11 024006