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Researchers map the main causes of global ‘water scarcity hotspots’

by News Room
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Hydrologists from the University of Utrecht, in collaboration with the National Geographic Society, have mapped where water shortages occur the most. In these so-called “water scarcity hotspots,” long-term overuse of fresh water threatens to deplete them, with all the associated social consequences, the researchers say.


According to researchers, water scarcity hotspots are everywhere. Thus, they ended up in the Arabian Peninsula, Central Chile, Spain, the Murray-Darling River Basin (Australia), Japan, the North China Plain, the Central Valley (California), the High Plains of the United States, the River Basin. White Nile in Sudan, Nile Delta, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Indus and Ganges watersheds, coastal Peru, Iran, Mexico, Java, Vietnam and Thailand.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, combines results from a global hydrological model (PCR-GLOBWB) with an extensive literature review to provide a comprehensive comparison of key causes, pressures, states, impacts and responses. between water scarcity use and availability in hotspot areas.

“To our knowledge, there are no studies that provide a global perspective on water scarcity issues with local research in water scarcity hotspots,” write the researchers, who reviewed more than 300 local studies.

“During our literature, I was amazed that behind each hotspot there is a complex story about the origins and consequences of water scarcity, and that people everywhere deal with their water shortage problems differently,” says the organization’s director, Myrthe Leijnse. study.

He identified several reasons for the emergence of hotspots, such as changes in hydroclimate and population growth. Agricultural and domestic water use puts pressure on water systems and water quality and requires appropriate action by local authorities. The most important social and environmental impacts of the hotspot are damage to ecosystems, conflicts, migrations and a decrease in agricultural production, the study states.

Leijnse: “New insights from our research can help transfer information and solutions between different hotspots. This could help local decision-makers to find sustainable solutions to reduce or alleviate local water shortages. This is particularly important as both climate change and population growth are expected to place greater demands on most hotspots. As a result, decision-makers face greater challenges.”

As a next step, the researchers and the National Geographic Society aim to provide policymakers with more detailed information about the multifaceted problems of water scarcity and to evaluate potential strategies to address this critical global challenge.

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