There is mounting evidence that climate change is triggering a shrinking and thinning of many glaciers world-wide. If the trend continues, it is possible that glaciers may completely disappear from many mountain ranges in the 21st century. This may eventually put at risk water supplies for hundreds of millions — if not billions — of people[1].


On one hand an outcome of global warming is increased flood risks in mountain areas[2].Data gaps exist in some vulnerable parts of the globe undermining the ability to provide precise early warning for countries and populations at risk. Accurate modeling and prediction of water flow is critical in such cases. On the other hand, global warming has been found in recent studies to be more than a third to blame for droughts in Australia and United States[3]. Identification and efficient use of fresh water resources will be more and more critical to our survival.

trnc_flood drought-pix

Climate change predictions due to global warming include the rise of sea levels in the range of 18 to 59 cm by 2100.  The rise of sea levels pushes sea water further inland, threatening freshwater aquifers.  The impact expected to coastal communities from the salination of fresh water resources needs to be carefully evaluated.


There are other causes for fresh water salination. In small islands like Cyprus and some other areas of the globe, groundwater is pumped for drinking, general use, and irrigation. Over-pumping, especially in drought conditions, reduces the head difference at the saltwater-freshwater interface and induces the flow of saltwater into the freshwater system. Overtime freshwater wells become unusable due to increased chloride concentration. Cyprus is the most water-stressed country in Europe (see Water Exploitation Index report below) due to such unsustainable water use[4]. It is not the only region of the globe, however, which suffers from water resource problems. Sustainable water use strategies and mechanisms need to be urgently developed through regulations, modeling, research, and development.


[1] “Global Glacier Changes: facts and figures”, United Nations Environment Programme DEWA/GRID-Europe environment for development

[2] Science Daily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100121164054.htm

[3] Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE52O3EJ20090325

[4] http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/water-exploitation-index-...