How Does Global Warming Affect Water Supply

As global warming accelerates in tandem with increasing human populations and their ever growing demand for natural resources, profound effects on water supply have been observed over recent years. With the heightened risk of floods and storms, diminishing groundwater stocks and drought-inflicted crop losses, the need for strong water management to curtail and cope with these changes has become a pressing issue.
While rising temperatures, an increase in wildfires and shifting precipitation patterns all contribute to the world’s water woes, the current degree of warming will likely push society to an unprecedented level of water scarcity. As the Earth’s surface warms, it causes more evaporation from soil and vegetation. Additionally, where warming has caused decreased snowfall, this “snowpack” no longer provides a reservoir for water during droughts, and instead leads to larger fluctuations in stream flows whenever precipitation does occur. These disruptions to local water supplies are troubling, but on a global scale, the implications could be devastating.
In one case, rising temperatures have not only reduced the availability of freshwater, but have also exacerbated the salinisation of the food chain in the Arabian Sea. A study conducted by the United Nations found that a combination of global climate change, artificial irrigation and low groundwater levels is having a severe impact on ocean’s coastal ecology, leading to a decrease in food availability and a threat to the livelihoods of fisherfolk.
In a similar manner, increased evaporation has also caused lakes and rivers to lose water faster, leading to decreased water flow for locals who depend on them. A study conducted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) concluded that, on average, water availability has decreased three to five percent when compared to pre-industrial levels. One devastating example of this includes the Salton Sea, located on the border between California and Mexico. The decrease in rainfall due to climate change has left the Sea with high salinity levels unfit for aquatic life, used up an enormous amount of water and left thousands of workers without jobs.
What’s more, the repercussions of dwindling water availability could not be confined to individual communities. If the world fails to tackle its fresh water problems, the potential impact on the global export chain could be dire. A 2017 report by the International Food Policy Research Institute estimated that water scarcity has already cost countries in southern Europe billions of dollars in losses due to reduced agricultural output over the last decade. Thus, to avoid similar catastrophes, individuals and organizations worldwide should strive to recognize the cause and effects of climate change on the water supply, and strive to come up with effective solutions that can mitigate the losses.
Among the approaches proposed by experts, the first and most essential step is to enhance water conservation efforts. Further, switching to drought-resistant agriculture, protecting against contamination of sources of water, reducing deforestation and chemical-heavy farming, and investing in efficient irrigation systems should all be seriously considered.
In conclusion, global warming poses a tremendous risk to the world’s water supply – one that must be addressed in a coordinated global effort. By increasing awareness and implementing mitigation efforts, communities around the world can protect what is often their most important natural resource, ensuring a better tomorrow for generations to come.
The way forward is clear: educate, engage and act now.

Ernestine Warren is a passionate environmentalist, author, and advocate for the protection of the Earth's precious resources. She has written extensively on the causes and effects of global warming, providing accurate information to help educate people on how to combat this major global problem. With a background in science and biology, Ernestine has the tools to help develop solutions that meet everyone's needs while minimizing environmental damage. Her hope is that each person can do their part for the planet and make a real difference to help reduce climate change.

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