Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas

Andrew Maddocks

Created: 10/22/2015 - Updated: 2/27/2020


The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas (Aqueduct) is a publicly available, global database and interactive tool that maps indicators of water-related risks. Aqueduct enables comparison across large geographies to identify regions or assets deserving of closer attention.

BETA LAUNCH: Projected Change Indicators, 2020, 2030, 2040

These maps and indicators show how climate change and socio-economic development could affect the availability of and demand for water resources over the coming decades. WRI’s projections of future water supply and demand are based upon ensembles of climate and socioeconomic change models that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change used in its Fifth Assessment Report.

Uncertainty permeates these forward-looking models because future climate conditions and development patterns cannot be predicted. Instead of focusing on a best or more likely scenario for future climate conditions, this tool is designed to illustrate a range of potential future scenarios of water supply, demand, stress, and seasonal variability. Users can explore different scenarios and consider how to plan for a range of potential futures.

The current conditions maps show where water-related risks are most severe. The future conditions maps show how climate change and/or development could affect water resources over the next 30 years.

The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas is an online mapping tool that allows users to examine current, emerging, and projected water risks on a global scale. Users can zoom in to a chosen location and overlay water risk with various base layers (e.g., topographical and street maps) to enhance spatial analysis. To analyze current water risk, users can map overall risk, adjust risk based on different contributing industries in their area (e.g., oil and gas, food, textiles), or map individual risk components. For example, they can map different factors that affect physical water quantity (e.g., flood occurrence, drought vulnerability, seasonal variability) and physical water quality (e.g., return flows, upstream land protection), as well as different factors that affect water regulatory and reputational risk. For the latter category, the Atlas maps media coverage, population water access, and threatened amphibian presence, categories that may affect how water management is handled, viewed, and regulated. Users can also map how future water risk may change over a 30-year time period due to climate change and development. Specifically, users can analyze how water stress, seasonal variability, water supply, and water demand may change over three different time horizons (2020, 2030, and 2040) and under two different climate scenarios (optimistic and business as usual). Maps can be downloaded or shared via a permalink. Information generated by the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas can be used to compare current and projected water challenges, to inform planning efforts, and to inform management in governmental, industrial, and financial sectors, as well as at local scales.


Land managers, water utility managers, natural resource managers, local authorities, planners, policymakers, engineers, scientists, industry, public


The World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global environmental think tank that goes beyond research to put ideas into action. We work with governments, companies, and civil society to build solutions to urgent environmental challenges. WRI’s transformative ideas protect the earth and promote development because sustainability is essential to meeting human needs and fulfilling human aspirations in the future.


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