Is physical water scarcity a new phenomenon? Global assessment of water shortage over the last two millennia

  • Kummu M
  • Ward P
  • de Moel H
 et al. 
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In this letter we analyse the temporal development of physical population-driven water scarcity, i.e. water shortage, over the period 0 AD to 2005 AD. This was done using population data derived from the HYDE dataset, and water resource availability based on the WaterGAP model results for the period 1961–90. Changes in historical water resources availability were simulated with the STREAM model, forced by climate output data of the ECBilt–CLIO–VECODE climate model. The water crowding index, i.e. Falkenmark water stress indicator, was used to identify water shortage in 284 sub-basins. Although our results show a few areas with moderate watershortage(1000–1700 m 3 /capita/yr) around the year 1800, water shortage began in earnest at around 1900, when 2% of the world population was under chronic water shortage (

Author-supplied keywords

  • change
  • global
  • global water resources
  • late holocene
  • palaeo-water availability
  • population growth
  • water scarcity
  • water shortage
  • water stress

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  • M Kummu

  • P Ward

  • H de Moel

  • O Varis

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