Climatic Change

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 7-23

First online:

Climate Change and Water Resources

  • Kenneth D. FrederickAffiliated withResources for the Future
  • , David C. MajorAffiliated withSarah Lawrence College

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Current perspectives on global climate change based on recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are presented. Impacts of a greenhouse warming that are likely to affect water planning and evaluation include changes in precipitation and runoff patterns, sea level rise, land use and population shifts following from these effects, and changes in water demands. Irrigation water demands are particularly sensitive to changes in precipitation, temperature, and carbon dioxide levels. Despite recent advances in climate change science, great uncertainty remains as to how and when climate will change and how these changes will affect the supply and demand for water at the river basin and watershed levels, which are of most interest to planners. To place the climate-induced uncertainties in perspective, the influence on the supply and demand for water of non-climate factors such as population, technology, economic conditions, social and political factors, and the values society places on alternative water uses are considered.