How are water and climate change related? What are the effects on water from climate change? To see the devastating effects with explanations in pictures, click here.
Melting polar ice caps (AP Images)
According to this water report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “The future effects of climate change on water resources… will depend on trends in both climatic and non-climatic factors. Evaluating these impacts is challenging because water availability, quality and streamflow are sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation. Other important factors include increased demand for water caused by population growth, changes in the economy, development of new technologies, changes in watershed characteristics and water management decisions.” While climate change is not the only contributing factor to the future availability, safety and security of the world’s water resources, it is a major component that many governments are beginning to think about today.
Climate change will affect how much and when it rains, which in turn affects vegetation and agriculture, including soil moisture. This also means increased floods and droughts, loss of wetlands from rising sea levels, and an upset in the delicate balance of salinity in the world’s oceans, which will affect the millions of creatures who live in and/or depend on the ocean (including humans!)
Here is some additional information to give you a better understanding of who is affected by water issues today and who will be the most affected in years to come. In 2007, the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture  stated that 1.2 billion people, or (at that time) about one-fifth of the world’s population lives in areas where water is physically scarce, and another 1.6 billion people live in developing countries without the ability to take water from rivers, aquifers and other water sources. Since 2007, the world’s population has increased – and so has the number of people without access to clean, safe water. This number will keep rising as the negative impacts of climate change continue. The alternative is that we do something to mitigate climate change…and come up with better solutions to adapt to it.
For more information on the science of how climate change affects water (flooding, drought, increased evaporation, natural disasters, etc.), check out http://www.climate.org/topics/water.html.
For water-related climate-risk management, here are the World Bank’s informational pages on water supply, sanitation and hygiene, agricultural water management, environmental services, hydropower, and water resources management.
What resources do you use to get your water information?
 Click on the link to find summaries of “Water for Food, Water for Life: A Comprehensive Assessment of Water Availability” in English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, and French.