Hotspots for social and ecological impacts from freshwater stress and storage loss

Xander Huggins, Tom Gleeson, Matti Kummu, Samuel C. Zipper, Yoshihide Wada, Tara J. Troy, James S. Famiglietti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

Humans and ecosystems are deeply connected to, and through, the hydrological cycle. However, impacts of hydrological change on social and ecological systems are infrequently evaluated together at the global scale. Here, we focus on the potential for social and ecological impacts from freshwater stress and storage loss. We find basins with existing freshwater stress are drying (losing storage) disproportionately, exacerbating the challenges facing the water stressed versus non-stressed basins of the world. We map the global gradient in social-ecological vulnerability to freshwater stress and storage loss and identify hotspot basins for prioritization (n = 168). These most-vulnerable basins encompass over 1.5 billion people, 17% of global food crop production, 13% of global gross domestic product, and hundreds of significant wetlands. There are thus substantial social and ecological benefits to reducing vulnerability in hotspot basins, which can be achieved through hydro-diplomacy, social adaptive capacity building, and integrated water resources management practices.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature Communications
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • General Physics and Astronomy

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