Members’ Publications

Global freshwater availability below normal conditions and population impactunder 1.5 and 2°C stabilization scenarios

Liu W, Lim W. H., Sun F., Mitchell, D., Wang H., Chen D., Bethke I., Shiogama H., Fischer E.
Geophys. Res. Lett., 45

Based on the large ensembles of the half a degree additional warming, prognosis, and projected impacts historical, +1.5 and +2°C experiments, we quantify changes in the magnitude of water availability (i.e., precipitation minus actual evapotranspiration; a function of monthly precipitation flux, latent heat flux, and surface air temperature) below normal conditions (less than median, e.g., 20th percentile water availability). We found that, relative to the historical experiment, water availability below normal conditions of the +1.5 and +2°C experiments would decrease in the midlatitudes and the tropics, indicating that hydrological drought is likely to increase in warmer worlds. These cause more (less) people in East Asia, Central Europe, South Asia, and Southeast Asia (West Africa and Alaska/Northwest Canada) to be exposed to water shortage. Stabilizing warming at 1.5°C instead of 2°C would limit population impact in most of the regions, less effective in Alaska/Northwest Canada, Southeast Asia, and Amazon. Globally, this reduced population impact is ~117 million people.