Climate Change is Affecting Asia’s Water Systems

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Climate Change is Affecting Asia’s Water Systems

An article on Asia Pathways says that most of the climate change risk in Asia comes down to the water.

According to the report, climate change risks will come either through water scarcity – from droughts, less precipitation, and receding glaciers in the Himalayas or from flooding caused by heavy and extreme rainfall, storm surges, or sea-level rise.

Both situations can adversely affect the people in Asia their livelihoods, especially if it relies upon agriculture, health, water supply, power supply, ecosystems, and general well-being.

The article enumerates climate change risk in the Asian regions as follows:

First, climate change alters rainfall patterns in Asia both in its amount and timing and will bring extreme events.

The rainy season will see unprecedented heavy rains, and dry seasons will linger more, leading to droughts.

According to data, the number of floods and droughts events in Asia has steadily increased since 1970, peaking between 2001 to 2010, which has seen 1,752 flood events, and 166 drought events.

Runoffs produced by heavy rains pose a significant risk because of the pollution it carries, including litter, toxic chemicals and substances, and fertilizer. Runoffs can contaminate sources of water which can be detrimental to human, animal, and ecosystems health.

Second, receding glaciers and increases in precipitation due to rising temperatures will affect the amounts of rivers and stream flows, impacting people living in the high mountains of Asia who depended on it for their water supply, power, irrigation, etc.

Sea-level rise (SLR) due to glacial melts also affects coastal countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and mainland China. Residents of these countries belong to 75% of the 300 million people projected to be inundated by SLR by 2050 under moderate reductions in emissions.

Thirdly, rising temperatures in Asia will also increase water demand and consumption by humans, animals and plants. Increasing water demand can lead to severe competition for water due to water scarcity and could spark conflicts in the region.

Addressing Asia’s water supply threats from climate change will require the region to ramp up its climate adaptation by transforming its water management practices and looking for innovative solutions.

An example is found in India’s Ladakh regions, where they have created ice stupas or manufactured glaciers to ensure that farmers have sufficient water to irrigate their crops. Innovative solutions combined with research, collaboration, and sharing of best practices can increase climate resilience in the region and minimize their losses.

Source Citation:

Kumse, K., Sonobe, T., & Rahut, D. (2021, May 14). Climate change impacts in Asia are all essentially a water story. Asia Pathways. Retrieved from

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