Sustainability

Water availability has decreased by 20 percent

On World Water Day on March 22, Ispra (the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research) released a set of data thanks to which we have the exact snapshot of national water availability.

In the last 30 climatological years - the one from 1991 to 2020 - water availability has decreased by 20 percent. In fact, the value is equivalent to 440 mm, while the historical reference, recorded between 1921 and 1950, is 550 mm. According to the Italian institute, even if the estimates were taken as a reference over the long term, that is, in the years between 1951 and 2021, the reduction would still be very significant, with about 16 percent less than the historical average annual value.

A water crisis caused undoubtedly by climate change, which causes both a decrease in precipitation and, due to rising temperatures, an increase in evaporation from bodies of water and transpiration of vegetation.

The hydrological model with which Ispra studies the hydrological situation is called BIGBANG. In addition to water quantity, Ispra also studies its quality. Making a future climate projection, Italian scientists have pointed out-both on a global and local scale-that from the short to the long term, the impact of climate change on the hydrological cycle and water availability will be there "if effective actions to reduce anthropogenic pressures are not put in place, both on the side of greenhouse gas emissions and on the side of water resource management, with a view to adaptation and sustainability of related uses."

Last year's figures are still being analyzed. But the drought of 2022-low rainfall and high temperatures-has actually reduced water availability and reserves for both civilian, agricultural and industrial use and for sustaining ecosystems and the services they provide, according to the institute. A situation that has made even more evident "the need to address issues related to anthropogenic pressures. Our studies," say Ispra, "have long since shown a statistically significant increase in the percentage of Italian territory subject to extreme drought conditions on an annual time scale.

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