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Climate and Water: Knowledge of Impacts to Action on Adaptation

1,2, 3, 4

Annual Review of Environment and Resources

Annual Reviews

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      Climate change. Stationarity is dead: whither water management?

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        Vulnerability

         W Adger (2006)
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          Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions.

          All currently available climate models predict a near-surface warming trend under the influence of rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In addition to the direct effects on climate--for example, on the frequency of heatwaves--this increase in surface temperatures has important consequences for the hydrological cycle, particularly in regions where water supply is currently dominated by melting snow or ice. In a warmer world, less winter precipitation falls as snow and the melting of winter snow occurs earlier in spring. Even without any changes in precipitation intensity, both of these effects lead to a shift in peak river runoff to winter and early spring, away from summer and autumn when demand is highest. Where storage capacities are not sufficient, much of the winter runoff will immediately be lost to the oceans. With more than one-sixth of the Earth's population relying on glaciers and seasonal snow packs for their water supply, the consequences of these hydrological changes for future water availability--predicted with high confidence and already diagnosed in some regions--are likely to be severe.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1]Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy,
            [2]Berkeley Water Center, University of California, Berkeley, California 94705-1718; email:
            [3]Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003-9285; email:
            [4]Centro Interdisciplinario de Cambio Global, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; email:
            Journal
            Annual Review of Environment and Resources
            Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour.
            Annual Reviews
            1543-5938
            1545-2050
            November 21 2012
            November 21 2012
            : 37
            : 1
            : 163-194
            10.1146/annurev-environ-050311-093931
            © 2012

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