Researchers provide extensive analysis of the world's water cycle

The final report of the Water and Global Change programme (WATCH), an extensive analysis of the world’s water resources, is made available on October 13, 2011, significantly expanding our understanding of climate change and land use impacts on the global hydrological cycle.

WATCH results provide the first assessment of the global hydrological cycle on a daily time-frame at 50km grid scale resolution for the past (20th century) and future (21st century), as well as a new global analysis of water scarcity.

Findings from WATCH, including new data sets, maps, new methods and models, are expected to provide a lasting legacy which will be used to analyse, predict and manage water resources, floods and droughts worldwide.

The four-year programme, funded by the European Union Framework Six Programme, was coordinated by scientists at the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and brought together a team of 100 climate scientists and hydrological researchers from 25 research centres in 14 European countries.

During the WATCH programme contributing scientists have:

  • highlighted the importance of land use change, which is at least as important as climate change to water resource issues
  • identified the potential vulnerability of water supply in sub-tropical catchments where changes in climate, land use and increasing consumption combine to produce future decreases in available water by up to 30%
  • provided new insights on the importance of evaporation for the global water cycle
  • investigated whether global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions substantially increase the risk of flood occurrence (e.g. in England and Wales in Autumn 2000)

WATCH outputs include 54 technical reports and over 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Read more at the CEH webpage.

EU WATCH Secretary / NERC - Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Thursday 13 October 2011