Regional Responses to Future, Demand-Driven Water Scarcity

TitleRegional Responses to Future, Demand-Driven Water Scarcity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsCui, Ryna Yiyun, Calvin Katherine, Clarke Leon, Hejazi Mohamad, Kim Son, Kyle Page, Patel Pralit, Turner Sean, and Wise Marshall
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume13
Pages094006
Date Published08/2018
Abstract / Summary

This paper explores regional response strategies to potential water scarcity. Using a model of integrated human-earth system dynamics (GCAM), we test a wide range of alternate water demand scenarios to explore regional response strategies. We create a typology that categorizes countries and basins according to their responses in electricity and agriculture to potential water scarcity. Three different categories are found. First, little response is observed for many basins because water demands do not increase enough to create scarcity. Second, the primary response is adjustments in the electricity sector (e.g. most basins in Western Europe, the United States and China) with a transition to water-saving cooling systems but marginal impact on total power generation or the fuel mix. Third, where there is a lack of sufficient responding capacity in the electricity sector (e.g. Pakistan, Middle East and several basins in India), additional response occurs through reduced irrigation water withdrawals, either by switching from domestic production to imports or from irrigated agriculture to rain-fed production. The primary response mechanism to demand-based water scarcity for individual basins is quite robust across the range of water demand scenarios tested. The results and typology in this paper will be valuable for future research exploring global water scarcity due to both demand and supply drivers.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aad8f7
DOI10.1088/1748-9326/aad8f7
Funding Program: 
Journal: Environmental Research Letters
Year of Publication: 2018
Volume: 13
Pages: 094006
Date Published: 08/2018

This paper explores regional response strategies to potential water scarcity. Using a model of integrated human-earth system dynamics (GCAM), we test a wide range of alternate water demand scenarios to explore regional response strategies. We create a typology that categorizes countries and basins according to their responses in electricity and agriculture to potential water scarcity. Three different categories are found. First, little response is observed for many basins because water demands do not increase enough to create scarcity. Second, the primary response is adjustments in the electricity sector (e.g. most basins in Western Europe, the United States and China) with a transition to water-saving cooling systems but marginal impact on total power generation or the fuel mix. Third, where there is a lack of sufficient responding capacity in the electricity sector (e.g. Pakistan, Middle East and several basins in India), additional response occurs through reduced irrigation water withdrawals, either by switching from domestic production to imports or from irrigated agriculture to rain-fed production. The primary response mechanism to demand-based water scarcity for individual basins is quite robust across the range of water demand scenarios tested. The results and typology in this paper will be valuable for future research exploring global water scarcity due to both demand and supply drivers.

DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aad8f7
Citation:
Cui, RY, K Calvin, L Clarke, M Hejazi, S Kim, P Kyle, P Patel, S Turner, and M Wise.  2018.  "Regional Responses to Future, Demand-Driven Water Scarcity."  Environmental Research Letters 13: 094006.  https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aad8f7.