An example of snowpacks on mountain tops.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Shrinking snowpacks could leave 2 billion people without enough water according to new research on the effects of global warming. Snow found in mountain chains is a very important and massive natural reserve of water. The low temperatures found in high altitude areas during the cold months preserve snow packs until spring, when this snow starts to melt and becomes a much needed source of water when human demand for it is at its peak.
However recent climate models used by a team of U.S. and European researchers have predicted changes in future quantities of water provided by the process of natural snow melting as it seems snow packs are decreasing in size. Scientists have found that climate change has negatively influenced the melting of snow packs as, because of the rise in global temperatures, less and less snow is amassed in the mountains during the winter months.
Scientists predict that because of the rising threat of greenhouse gas emissions as well as the earlier melting of the snow and the declining amount of snow amassed during winter, more than a hundred watershed basins which rely on melting snow for water supply around the world will face a 67 percent chance of decline within the next century.
More than two billion people in the northern hemisphere are facing significant water shortages should this decline continue. Even best case scenarios tested with the climate models predicted water declines for several important water basins, including ones that meet the water demand through rainfall.
Climate change and the predicted rise in global temperatures are important factors in predicting how much our water supplies will dwindle but they are not the only ones. The already dramatic decrease in our future water supplies has been calculated in accordance with current consumption around the world.
However, scientists warn that people’s consumptive habits should also be taken into account as any future changes in these patterns will bring even more uncertainty. Taking into consideration the fact that populations are expected to increase the demand for water will escalate as well, which will make water shortages even more substantial. Scientists believe that technological changes as well as proper management of existing water resources could offset some of these increases.
However while we do have the capacity to adapt to these changes to some extent, this capacity will differ greatly depending on the area in question, so some places may be more well equipped to deal with future water shortages than others.
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