Researchers from Utrecht University improve a web tool mapping global water challenges

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Researchers from Utrecht University have improved the World Resources Institute’s online Aqueduct 4.0 Water Risk Framework. In Aqueduct , the Water Resources Institute (WRI) compiles scientific information on global water scarcity and water-related hazards, and translates this information into clear but insightful maps for decision-makers and other non-scientific users. The latest version of the web tool Aqueduct 4.0 uses novel data and is based on improved analyses. The new web tool is launched today.

Background

Climate change is already resulting in an increase in water scarcity and water related hazards such as floods and droughts. At the same time, population growth and increased living standards are increasing the demand for water. In a changing world, the need to make informed and balanced decisions is becoming more urgent, as the changing demand for water must be met by the available water resources in a sustainable manner, while mitigating the impact of water related hazards. The scientific evidence to make such decisions is exhaustive, but often too specific and specialized, and therefore too complex, to inform decision makers in a clear and concise manner.

Improvements

The web tool Aqueduct 4.0 provides information to identify and prioritise water challenges in an early phase of the decision-making process, and to compare regions. The new version includes improved indicators in the fields of water availability, water related hazards and water quality. One fundamental improvement is the incorporation of the most recent projections of climate change and socio-economic development into model-based assessments of water-related challenges by researchers of Utrecht University that underly Aqueduct 4.0. The assessment covers the recent past, and includes prognoses for the period until 2100. It allows for a consistent comparison of the changes predicted for the years 2030, 2050 and 2080 relative to the present-day situation, based on three scenarios that detail possible pathways of future global development. These scenarios include an extrapolation of the present trend (business-as-usual) as well as a more optimistic and a more pessimistic scenario with regard to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to these assessments, open-source and peer-reviewed data have been used to compute supplementary indicators. All indicators have been mapped to individual sub-basins (1,000 to 10,000 km2), and this information can be aggregated to larger administrative units (e.g., country-level) and weighed in relation to specific water demand sectors (domestic, industrial, and agricultural).

The WRI Aqueduct 4.0 Water Risk Framework web tool can be used directly by anyone as the basis of a qualitative analysis or as an objective starting point for more advanced regional deep dives.