Saturday, March 24, 2012

New tool developed to assess global freshwater stress

A news release from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory: A new method to make better use of vast amounts of data related to global geography, population and climate may help determine the relative importance of population increases vs. climate change.

While several recent studies suggest that much of the world is likely to experience freshwater shortages as the population increases and temperatures rise, determining the relative impact of each has been difficult. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory paper published in Computers & Geosciences outlines a process that might help.

"Our work establishes a new method to couple geographic information system data with global climate outputs and statistical analysis," said ORNL's Esther Parish, lead author. Using this technique, researchers can now conduct assessments that will provide information critical to policymakers and stakeholders.

"Our tool provides a simple method to integrate disparate climate and population data sources and develop preliminary per capita water availability projections at a global scale," said Parish, a member of the Department of Energy laboratory's Environmental Sciences Division.

...The researchers noted that while this paper outlines a proof of concept that lends some preliminary insight to the relative importance of climate change vs. population, output from multiple climate models must be incorporated in future research. "By investigating multiple models, we may be able to quantify -- or at least qualify -- uncertainty in how different climate change scenarios could affect water availability," Parish said. "Given that population growth is likely to be an even bigger factor in water availability than climate change, it will also be critical to reassess areas of concern with regional- or state-level population growth scenarios."...

Girls carrying water, shot by John Barrie, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

No comments: