Articles | Volume 17, issue 7
Research article
01 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 01 Jul 2013

A global water scarcity assessment under Shared Socio-economic Pathways – Part 2: Water availability and scarcity

N. Hanasaki, S. Fujimori, T. Yamamoto, S. Yoshikawa, Y. Masaki, Y. Hijioka, M. Kainuma, Y. Kanamori, T. Masui, K. Takahashi, and S. Kanae

Abstract. A global water scarcity assessment for the 21st century was conducted under the latest socio-economic scenario for global change studies, namely Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs). SSPs depict five global situations with substantially different socio-economic conditions. In the accompanying paper, a water use scenario compatible with the SSPs was developed. This scenario considers not only quantitative socio-economic factors such as population and electricity production but also qualitative ones such as the degree of technological change and overall environmental consciousness. In this paper, water availability and water scarcity were assessed using a global hydrological model called H08. H08 simulates both the natural water cycle and major human activities such as water abstraction and reservoir operation. It simulates water availability and use at daily time intervals at a spatial resolution of 0.5° × 0.5°. A series of global hydrological simulations were conducted under the SSPs, taking into account different climate policy options and the results of climate models. Water scarcity was assessed using an index termed the Cumulative Abstraction to Demand ratio, which is expressed as the accumulation of daily water abstraction from a river divided by the daily consumption-based potential water demand. This index can be used to express whether renewable water resources are available from rivers when required. The results suggested that by 2071–2100 the population living under severely water-stressed conditions for SSP1-5 will reach 2588–2793 × 106 (39–42% of total population), 3966–4298 × 106 (46–50%), 5334–5643 × 106 (52–55%), 3427–3786 × 106 (40–45%), 3164–3379 × 106 (46–49%) respectively, if climate policies are not adopted. Even in SSP1 (the scenario with least change in water use and climate) global water scarcity increases considerably, as compared to the present-day. This is mainly due to the growth in population and economic activity in developing countries, and partly due to hydrological changes induced by global warming.