September 21, 2018
Web Feature

Effects of Water Management on Future Droughts from Atmosphere to Rivers: A Global Multi-Model Analysis

Water management may alleviate future agricultural droughts but intensify hydrological droughts

water management

When water is managed, more is available for human uses, but less is available to other land in the watershed.

The Science

Precipitation patterns, irrigation water, and stream flows have significant socioeconomic effects and are projected to change. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Montana State University established an integrated approach to quantify the effects of human activities on the propagation of future meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological droughts at the global scale.

Their findings suggest that water management activities could reduce both the duration and intensity of agricultural droughts by a factor of about ten in most regions, while they may increase those of hydrological droughts by up to 50 percent.

The Impact

The study suggests that water management activities will fundamentally change the characteristics and evolution of future meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological droughts. Thus, to quantify the evolving characteristics of future drought events and to devise appropriate drought management strategies, researchers should not only model future climate conditions, but also the evolution of human systems.


Reference: W. Wan, J. Zhao, H. Li, A. Mishra, M. Hejazi, H. Lu, Y. Demissie, and H. Wang, "A Holistic View of Water Management Impacts on Future Droughts: A Global Multi-Model Analysis." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 123(11), 5947-5972 (2018). [DOI: 10.1029/2017JD027825]

Published: September 21, 2018

Research Team

Mohamad Hejazi, Joint Global Change Research Institute, PNNL; Wenhua Wang, Tsinghua University (China) and Montana State University
Jianshi Zhao and Hui Lu, Tsinghua University
Hao Wang, Tsinghua University and China Institute of Hydropower and Water Resources
Hong-Yi Li, Montana State University
Ashok Mishra, Clemson University
Yonas Demissie, Washington State University