Climate change is shrinking global drinking water resources, reveals a recent study published by researchers from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The research is based on over 40 years of water samples taken in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest.
What the study finds is that water from more recent samples is coming from different parts of the world that it used to, namely from the Arctic. Isotopic analysis of the water samples allows us to know where rain and snow came from in the first place, because water from different parts of the world has different isotopic identifiers.
The water that has been falling on New Hampshire, where the Hubbard Brook forest is located, has been coming from the Arctic because ice levels are dropping there and more water is evaporating.
Subsequently, the polar vortex that has been responsible for record low temperatures in places as diverse as New York and Florida in recent years, not to mention huge blizzards in recent memory, has also been bringing that water some 2,500 miles south to New England.
About 85% of the world’s population lives in the driest half of the planet, and some 783 million people do not have access to clean water, so figuring out how climate change impacts the distribution of water around the globe is of great importance.
Further research along these lines will be necessary for scientists to understand some of the more subtle effects of climate change, and for policymakers to take that information into account when determining how to deal with climate change in the future.
More research will be forthcoming to help scientists build a better picture of how water resources are distributed globally. This information may help us to find ways to harness that information and improve the lives of people around the world.