On the global water trail

On the global water trail
Credit: Jim Handcock

Water is one of humanity's most pressing issues. Do we have enough of it for drinking, for farming or for industry? Too much, in the shape of flooding? Or too little, in the form of drought? The WATCH project, funded by the EU, was designed to give us better answers to questions of water management. Since its completion in 2011, the data has already been downloaded 94 times from Europe but also to the US, Africa and elsewhere. It has been mainly used by scientists, but also by mapping companies, insurers and meteorological organisations, as well as wildlife and environmental groups.

The project gives us a unique view of at a variety of scales from the global on downwards, according to project manager Tanya Warnaars from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford near Oxford in the UK. "The first block of work we did, looked at 20th century records and made sure that we had all that data in a consistent form," she says. "Then we moved on to produce data for modellers working on 21st century water flows and for groups looking at , both past and future," she adds, referring to floods, etc.

To get a complete picture of the water resources availability, the project also examined human , including farming, manufacturing and , as well as future water vulnerability, and feedbacks in the . And the model aims to be comprehensive, including data never taken into account before. "We did work on and defined new ways of quantifying evaporation consistently into estimates," Warnaars tells youris.com.

The project brought previously separate communities, such as modellers and experts on specific river basins, together in a new way. "They now have a single modelling protocol," she says, "which brings these two disciplines together working in the same framework."

Some praise the ambition and originality of this project. "It is very hard to scale data up from the local to the global level and keep it consistent," says terrestrial expertEric Wood of Princeton University, US. Some high-quality science has already emerged from it, such as a valuable analysis of river temperatures. As global warming makes surface water hotter, there is a danger that cooling water will no longer be available for industry and for power generation.

"We are used to the idea of global climate models. It is also important to have global water models, because of the globalisation of food production," Wood tells youris.com. They help us to understand the idea of "virtual water," water that is imported by means of food imports rather than directly. But Wood cautions that water data from across the world varies in quality. Current models of and use can become even better than they are today.

The project is considered by others as an innovative mix of land and water models.Taikan Oki, professor of industrial science at Tokyo University's Institute of Industrial Science in Japan is especially impressed with the way it built human interventions such as reservoirs and irrigation into its calculations. This, he says, allows it produce unified studies of the impact of climate change on water food, taking account of climate, population, GDP, and land use and land cover and using multiple models.

"There have been many impact studies of climate change but very few using multiple models covering the entire 20th and 21st centuries," he notes. He predicts that the project tool has the potential to be widely used by scientists. However, it cannot show how mitigation and adaptation measures might reduce climate change impacts, Oki points out. Nor can it track the impact on human health, food production, and ecosystems of changing water cycles.


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Citation: On the global water trail (2013, July 3) retrieved 23 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-07-global-trail.html
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Jul 03, 2013
I hereby guarantee that the "results" of this "study", whether is shows too much water or too little or just about right, will confirm that the climate modelers got it exactly right all along, and if we don't give all our money and rights to the Collective in the next 6 months, we're Venus by 2074, March 3rd, at 11:32:15AM PST, to be precise.

Jul 03, 2013
Barring virtually free energy, water will become a scarce commodity in the not so distant future.

It's fairly clear Jokepostr didn't read past the first paragraph. Why do you feel the need to vomit your garbage all of this forum?

Jul 04, 2013
It's fairly clear Jokepostr didn't read past the first paragraph.

Sometimes he never even makes it past the title.

Jul 04, 2013
We are used to the idea of global climate models. It is also important to have global water models

The climate models have been such a successful cash cow for those who fabricate them, so why stop there.

Jul 05, 2013
We are used to the idea of global climate models. It is also important to have global water models

The climate models have been such a successful cash cow for those who fabricate them, so why stop there.

The anti-GW lies funded by Big Energy have paid handsome rewards to those who propagate them. Are yo getting your fair share of the booty?

Jul 05, 2013
We are used to the idea of global climate models. It is also important to have global water models

The climate models have been such a successful cash cow for those who fabricate them, so why stop there.

The anti-GW lies funded by Big Energy have paid handsome rewards to those who propagate them. Are yo getting your fair share of the booty?

The AGW Alarmists are funded by stupidity, of which you got more than your fair share.
But, that's okay, since it's from an unlimited supply.

Jul 06, 2013
We are used to the idea of global climate models. It is also important to have global water models

The climate models have been such a successful cash cow for those who fabricate them, so why stop there.

The anti-GW lies funded by Big Energy have paid handsome rewards to those who propagate them. Are yo getting your fair share of the booty?

The AGW Alarmists are funded by stupidity, of which you got more than your fair share.
But, that's okay, since it's from an unlimited supply.

Wake up and smell the tobacco smoke.

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