Articles | Volume 18, issue 12
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-18-5025-2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-18-5025-2014
Research article
 | 
11 Dec 2014
Research article |  | 11 Dec 2014

A virtual water network of the Roman world

B. J. Dermody, R. P. H. van Beek, E. Meeks, K. Klein Goldewijk, W. Scheidel, Y. van der Velde, M. F. P. Bierkens, M. J. Wassen, and S. C. Dekker

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Our virtual water network of the Roman World shows that virtual water trade and irrigation provided the Romans with resilience to interannual climate variability. Virtual water trade enabled the Romans to meet food demands from regions with a surplus. Irrigation provided stable water supplies for agriculture, particularly in large river catchments. However, virtual water trade also stimulated urbanization and population growth, which eroded Roman resilience to climate variability over time.