Water scarcity in the tropical Andes: Population growth outweighs climate change
As the Earth’s surface warms, climate models predict that the amount of fresh water for human consumption will likely decrease in parts of the globe. While that prospect looms for many cities around the world, a new study finds a more imminent threat to water supplies of cities in the tropical Andes, such as Lima, Peru and Quito, Ecuador. “Despite all the uncertainty of the future impact of climate change, the impact of population growth is much bigger,” said Wouter Buytaert of Imperial College London, an environmental engineer and lead author of the study. This could mean harsher times ahead for millions including the 7.6 and 2.2 million inhabitants of the fast growing cities of Lima and Quito. To probe the regional situation more deeply, Buytaert said, the next step will be to look at additional influences on water resources, such as vegetation changes and land degradation. Integrating those stressors into models would give an increasingly accurate picture and timeline for when, where, and how water scarcity will impact the tropical Andes.
Photo (c) Felipe Cancino / Flickr