Managing Water as China Warms: New Insights from Regional Models
In the next few decades, climate change in China will add pressure onto water resources, already under intense stress. China’s successful investments in water-related infrastructure have helped mitigate climate variability and strengthen water, food and energy security; but the country’s water supplies are now dwindling under a combination of population growth, rising per capita demand, urbanization, industrialization and pollution, particularly in the water-scarce north. Per capita water availability is only 25% of the global average. Climate change is exacerbating these strains, and so the water sector is one of four priority areas for adaptation identified in China’s national climate change adaptation program.
But adaptation planning has been hampered by uncertainty about how climate change will affect the country’s surface and groundwater systems. Now, early findings from an innovative research project are beginning to provide a clearer picture. The project, Adapting to Climate Change in China (ACCC), aims to demonstrate how the latest climate modelling can be linked with impact assessment and decision-making across different sectors, including water.
This Policy Brief summarizes the ACCC’s interim findings on the past and future impacts of climate variability and change on water resources in China, and explores the implications for management and policy.