“More and more people will suffer from extreme droughts if a medium-to-high level of global warming continues and water management is maintained at its present state,” says lead author Yadu Pokhrel, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Michigan State University

“Areas of the Southern Hemisphere, where water scarcity is already a problem, will be disproportionately affected,” he says. “We predict this increase in water scarcity will affect food security and escalate human migration and conflict.”

The team, including Farshid Felfelani, a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State, projects a large reduction in natural land water storage in two-thirds of the world, also caused by climate change.

Land water storage, technically known as terrestrial water storage, or TWS, is the accumulation of water in snow and ice, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, wetlands, soil, and groundwater—all critical components of the world’s water and energy supply. TWS modulates the flow of water within the hydrological cycle and determines water availability as well as drought.

“Our findings are a concern,” Pokhrel says. “To date, no study has examined how climate change would impact land water storage globally. Our study presents the first, comprehensive picture of how global warming and socioeconomic changes will affect land water storage and what that will mean for droughts until the end of the century.”

Read the full article about extreme droughts by Kim Ward at Futurity.