Dr. Quan Dau, a member of Climate Smart Lab, and his co-author have recently contributed to a series book, Development in Environmental Science, with a research entitled “A system-based probing of the effects of climate and societal perturbations on water resources management”.
Climate change associated with increased anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions is having phenomenal effects on the state of water resources globally, ranging from severe water scarcity due to prolonged droughts to devastating floods caused by changing patterns and intensity of rainfall. At the same time, rapid socio-economic changes fueled by population explosion and land use alterations are increasing the pressures on the available water resources. Adapting to these new realities requires the development of innovative ways of managing water resources that recognize that water is limited and competition for it among the various sectors—domestic and industrial, agricultural, energy, environment—will intensify as the effects of these drivers intensify. Central to the development of these innovative ways is the assessment of the magnitude of the impacts. This paper will outline the steps involved in the assessment of the impacts of climate and socio-economic changes on regional water resources, using a recent study undertaken in the northwest region of India. Three large irrigation areas in the States of Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan and projections of the climate and socio-economic landscape at the mid- and end-century were considered to assess the adequacy of water availability. Multiple-model ensembles of five CMIP5 climate models under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario, and Shared Socio-economic Pathway (SSP) 1, were used for the future projections. The results indicated that ensemble mean annual irrigation water demand in the future will decline by up to 13% in the Punjab and 9% in Haryana due to the transition from rural areas to urban centers. However, the State of Rajasthan showed an increased demand of about 14% in the future relative to the baseline. The findings of this study are expected to be beneficial for the Bhakra and Beas Management Board in the planning and management of the Beas-Sutlej water resources system. The carefully explained methodological approach should also allow its adaptation to basins in other parts of the world that face similar challenges of water resources management.