Last updated October 10, 2018

Projections of Water Stress Based on an Ensemble of Socioeconomic Growth and Climate Change Scenarios: A Case Study in Asia

  • States the sustainability of future water resources is of paramount importance and is affected by many factors, including population, wealth and climate
  • States that current methods to estimate these factors in the future have inherent uncertainties in their prediction
  • Integrates a large ensemble of scenarios—internally consistent across economics, emissions, climate, and population—to develop a risk portfolio of water stress over a large portion of Asia that includes China, India, and Mainland Southeast Asia in a future with unconstrained emissions
  • Isolates the effects of socioeconomic growth from the effects of climate change in order to identify the primary drivers of stress on water resources
  • Finds that water needs related to socioeconomic changes, which are currently small, are likely to increase considerably in the future, often overshadowing the effect of climate change on levels of water stress
  • Results suggest there is a high risk of severe water stress in densely populated watersheds by 2050, compared to recent history
  • Results also suggest there is strong evidence that, in the absence of autonomous adaptation or societal response, a much larger portion of the region’s population will live in water-stressed regions in the near future