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Global Water Resources Report 2021: WMO

  • 01 Dec 2022
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: Climate Change, Water Crisis, La Nina, Drought, Floods, Cryosphere, Indo-Gengetic Plain.

For Mains: World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Global Water Resources Report 2021.

Why in News?

Recently, WMO (World Meteorological Organization) has released its first annual State of Global Water Resources Report 2021.

What is this Report About?

  • The aim of this annual report is to support monitoring and management of global freshwater resources in an era of growing demand and limited supplies.
  • The report focuses on three major areas:
    • Streamflow, the volume of water flowing through a river channel at any given time.
    • Terrestrial water storage (TWS) — all water on the land surface and in the sub-surface.
    • The cryosphere (frozen water).

What are the Findings of the Report?

  • Overview:
    • Between 2001 and 2018, UN-Water reported that a staggering 74% of all natural disasters were water-related.
      • The recent UN climate change conference, COP27, in Egypt, urged governments to further integrate water into adaptation efforts, the first-time water has been referenced in a COP outcome document in recognition of its critical importance.
    • 3.6 billion people have inadequate access to water at least one month per year and this is expected to increase to more than five billion by 2050.
    • Large areas of the globe recorded drier-than-normal conditions in 2021, which was a year in which precipitation patterns were influenced by climate change and a La Niña event.
    • The area with below-average streamflow was approximately two times larger than the above-average area, in comparison to the 30-year hydrological average.
  • Region wise Streamflow:
    • Drought: Areas that were unusually dry included South America’s Rio de la Plata area, where a persistent drought has affected the region since 2019.
    • Below Normal: In Africa, major rivers such as the Niger, Volta, Nile and Congo had below-average water flow in 2021. The same trend was observed in rivers in parts of Russia, West Siberia and in Central Asia.
    • Above Normal: On the other hand, there were above-normal river volumes in some North American basins, the North Amazon and South Africa, as well as in China’s Amur River basin, and northern India.
  • Terrestrial Cover:
    • Below Normal: Aside from river flow variations, overall terrestrial water storage was classified as below normal on the west coast of the United States, in central South America and Patagonia, North Africa and Madagascar, Central Asia and the Middle East, Pakistan and North India.
    • Above Normal: It was above normal in Central Africa, northern South America – specifically the Amazon Basin – and northern China.
  • Cryosphere:
    • Mountains are often called natural “water towers” because they are the source of rivers and freshwater supplies for an estimated 1.9 billion people.
    • Changes to cryosphere water resources affect food security, human health, ecosystem integrity and maintenance, and lead to significant impacts on economic and social development.

What is the Scenario of India?

  • There is more evidence of the worsening impact of global warming on the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) that straddles eastern Pakistan, northern India, southern Nepal and the whole of Bangladesh.
  • The Ganga-Brahmaputra and Indus basins that form the Plain, recorded more water flowing in the river channels due to glacial melt even as their total water storage declined in 2021.
  • This will be extremely worrying news since the IGP supports nearly half a billion people across the four countries.

What are the Recommendations?

  • There is insufficient understanding of changes in the distribution, quantity, and quality of freshwater resources, there is a need to fill that knowledge gap and provide a concise overview of water availability in different parts of the world.
  • There is a need for the development of end-to-end drought and flood early warning systems.
  • The long-term projections of glacier run-off and the timing of peak water, should be key inputs to long-term adaptation decisions.
  • There is a need to accelerate the availability and sharing of hydrological data, including river discharge and transboundary river basin information.

What is the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)?

  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 193 Member States and Territories.
    • India is a member of WMO.
  • It originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was established after the 1873 Vienna International Meteorological Congress.
  • Established by the ratification of the WMO Convention on 23rd March 1950, WMO became the specialized agency of the United Nations for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences.'
  • WMO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Source: DTE

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