An online tool visualizes various unpleasant water-scarce scenarios.

Water scarcity is likely to be one of the great problems facing the planet this century. Various risk factors contribute to the scarcity of clean water. A new mapping tool from the World Resources Institute visualizes how those risk factors can combine to create large problems, or how conditions can be improved to reduce the potential for water shortages between now and 2095.

The Water Risk Atlas shows how variable environmental conditions, human activities and regulatory environments affect the stability of water sources all over the world. One-year and three-year socioeconomic droughts can be displayed, as can baseline water stress, seasonal variability, inter-annual variability, and flood frequency. The tool also shows projected water stress levels for the years 2025, 2050 and 2095, under three different climate change scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The year 2095, for example, is not looking to great for a lot of places. In the most pessimistic of those scenarios, A2, some pretty extreme stress rates can be seen in the Ogallala Aquifer area in the central U.S., as well as Central America, most of northern Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

A cool feature zooms in to examine specific water basins, though only two are currently available. The tool's variable weighting system allows users to see how different environmental and use conditions would affect water risk in specific sections of the basin. Users can change weights to see how a higher or lower seasonal variability would affect overall water risk, or what impact a reduction in upstream storage would have. The map even displays how increased water monitoring and media attention could affect water risk in different parts of the basin. The site will soon include four additional basins for specific coverage.

While the data isn't complete, the mapping tool offers a detailed and disturbing look at the water scarcity issues that lay not too far ahead.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    The Cities Americans Want to Flee, and Where They Want to Go

    An Apartment List report reveals the cities apartment-hunters are targeting for their next move—and shows that tales of a California exodus may be overstated.

  2. photo: a pair of homes in Pittsburgh
    Equity

    The House Flippers of Pittsburgh Try a New Tactic

    As the city’s real estate market heats up, neighborhood groups say that cash investors use building code violations to encourage homeowners to sell.  

  3. Life

    Can Toyota Turn Its Utopian Ideal Into a 'Real City'?

    The automaker-turned-mobility-company announced last week it wants to build a living, breathing urban laboratory from the ground up in Japan.

  4. Transportation

    In Paris, a Very Progressive Agenda Is Going Mainstream

    Boosted by big sustainability wins, Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pitching bold plans to make the city center “100 percent bicycle” and turn office space into housing.

  5. photo: San Diego's Trolley
    Transportation

    Out of Darkness, Light Rail!

    In an era of austere federal funding for urban public transportation, light rail seemed to make sense. Did the little trains of the 1980s pull their own weight?

×