The UN warns: data is missing, the picture of global water resources is only partial
(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – In 2021, the regions that received much less rainfall than the average of the last 30 years were twice as abundant as those with more rainfall than usual. A trend influenced by La Niña. But it is not only the most widespread drought that must alarm. Among the areas where more mm of rain have accumulated are also Germany and the area between Liguria and Piedmont, affected by extreme events that devastated the territory in July and October respectively. An increasingly erratic trend, that of rains, shows one of the main effects of the climate crisis on the state of global water resources.
“The impacts of climate change are often perceived through water – more intense and frequent droughts, more extreme flooding, more irregular seasonal rainfall and accelerated melting of glaciers – with cascading effects on economies, on ecosystems and all aspects of our daily lives. Yet the understanding of changes in the distribution, quantity and quality of freshwater resources is insufficient,” says the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Petteri Taalas, introducing the first OMM report on the state of global water resources.
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The only continent where, in the last 20 years, there has been a positive trend in the availability of water in rivers and lakes is Africa. For the rest of the Planet the balance is negative. But as we look closer, we can see that only the African tropical belt has more water resources than in the past, while Sahel and Maghreb have a deficit. Some of Asia’s major rivers, including the Indus, the Ganges, the Yellow River, and the Mekong, have also decreased. This is despite the fact that the melting of glaciers has steadily increased, the chapter of the report dedicated to the cryosphere records.
Currently, 3.6 billion people have no access to water for at least a month a year and this figure is expected to increase to more than 5 billion by 2050. Between 2001 and 2018, the UN water agency, UN-Water, reported that 74% of all-natural disasters were water-related.