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Water Supply and the Impacts of Climate Change

Unchecked climate change presents many risks. But long before the most obvious impacts hit home, climate change could play havoc with our water resources.

California, much of the Mountain West, New York City, and cities across the globe could all face a serious threat to their water resources from climate change. How? Climate change, by altering the timing of winter snows and spring rains, could swamp reservoirs early in the season (forcing them to
dump the water to maintain capacity) and leaving states like California high and dry in late summer.

Our research on this threat was made part of the United States Global Change Research Program’s National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Change and this chapter is online.

Other Climate and Water Threats

Island nations also face a serious threat to their water resources from climate change. Rising water levels, before they destroy property and flood low-lying areas, will taint coastal freshwater supplies with salt -- and put the drinking water of millions of people at risk. “The Possible Impacts of Climate Change on Pacific Island State Ecosystems” (PDF) looks at this issue in greater depth.

To assist researchers studying this complex issue, the Pacific
Institute has created an online, searchable database of scholarly literature: The Water and Climate Bibliography.

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Water: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change

"The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on the Freshwater Resources of Pacific Island Developing Countries," in The World's Water (PDF)

Science, Climate Change, and Censorship: The Pacific Institute, Patrick Michaels, and the science of climate change

More About The Global Change Program

Note: To read pdf files you may need Acrobat Reader.