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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Nov 2017

Research article | 27 Nov 2017

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Freshwater resources under success and failure of the Paris climate agreement

Jens Heinke1, Christoph Müller1, Mats Lannerstad2, Dieter Gerten1,3, and Wolfgang Lucht1,3 Jens Heinke et al.
  • 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, P.O. Box 60 12 03, 14412 Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Independent Consultant, Welanders väg 7, SE-112 50 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of Geography, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany

Abstract. Population growth will in many regions increase the pressure on water resources and likely increase the number of people affected by water scarcity. In parallel, global warming causes hydrological changes which regionally also impact human water supply. This study estimates the increase in pressure on global water resources due to population growth and adverse hydrological effects at different levels of global mean temperature rise above pre-industrial level (∆Tglob), including reduced mean water availability, growing prevalence of hydrological droughts, and increased frequency of flooding hazards. The study analyses the results in the context of success and failure of implementing the Paris Agreement, and evaluates how climate mitigation can reduce the future number of people affected by severe hydrological change, assessed for the population as a whole, as well as for vulnerable population groups already projected to experience water scarcity in the absence of climate change. The results show that without climate mitigation efforts, in 2100 more than 5.1 billion people in the SSP2 population scenario would more likely than not be affected by severe hydrological change, and about 1.9 billion of them would already be affected by water scarcity in the absence of climate change. Limiting warming to 2°C or 1.5°C by a successful implementation of the Paris Agreement would strongly limit the number of people affected by severe hydrological changes and water scarcity to 274 million or 104 million, respectively. At the regional scale, substantial water related risks remain at 2°C, with more than 10% of the population affected in Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa region. Constraining ∆Tglob to 1.5°C would limit this share to about 5% in these regions.

Jens Heinke et al.
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Jens Heinke et al.
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