WATER RESOURCES

Gauging vulnerability to water shortages

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Science  19 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6275, pp. 828
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6275.828-b

Cities are highly vulnerable to water shortages. Lack of irrigation water, which makes up the largest proportion of global water use, can have severe social and economic consequences in urban areas. Reducing this vulnerability requires understanding how water resources vary over time, both regionally and globally. Brauman et al. developed a metric based on seasonal and drought-related depletion of water resources to provide more accurate estimates of global water scarcity. Factoring in these variables into annual global water models, the number of watersheds experiencing significant depletion increased 15-fold. Because nearly 50% of large cities and over 70% of croplands fall short of their water needs at some point in the year, rebalancing their water budgets should be a top priority.

Elementa 10.12952/journal.elementa.000083 (2016).

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