Water News Highlights

Hydrology Corner Blog - Water News Jan 2016

With 23 articles shared, last month was a busy one for water news.

The biggest story of the month has to be that 2015 was the hottest on record. This is true globally with the WMO reporting that 2015 broke all previous records by a strikingly wide margin at 0.76° C above the 1961-1990 average. This marks the first time that global temperatures have been 1° C above the pre-industrial era.

The global result is consistent with reports from many nations including USA, Australia, France, Finland, and China. A big part of what pushed 2015 over the top was a monster El Nino that really heated things up toward the end of the year. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology was one of the first to make the call that the El Nino had reached its peak in December.

As we have all observed many times in many different time-series, a new peak in the period of record is more likely to be a predictor of the start of a downward trend rather than proof of a persistent upward trend. This may be different – climate science indicates that we should probably expect an increase in both frequency and of magnitude of ‘new’ extremes. The more we monitor natural systems the more we understand controls on the behavior of these systems and the less likely we are to make costly mistakes.

Nonetheless, the impact of a hotter planet on water systems is something that we need to monitor very closely.

The impacts of a new normal on worldwide electricity production has been studied by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. An infographic on Water and Security Hot Spots 2016 makes explicit links between water availability and conflicts resulting in mass migrations. In fact The World Economic Forum lists water crises as the global risk of highest concern over the next 10 years.

Water is in the news for all of the wrong reasons.

We have work to do to get water out of the news. Let’s start by doing everything we can to ensure there is an abundant supply of relevant and trustworthy water data available to inform wise decisions. Better water data will help to avert crises and, in cases where we can’t prevent hard times, better data will help us learn how to better adapt to a ‘new normal’.

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