Most of the globe was drier than normal in 2021, with "cascading effects on economies, ecosystems and our daily lives", the
According to the agency's first report on global water resources, areas that were unusually dry included
On the other hand, there were above-normal river volumes in some North American basins, the North Amazon and
WMO said that 3.6 billion people have inadequate access to water at least one month per year and that this is expected to increase to more than five billion by 2050.
"The impacts of climate change are often felt through water - more intense and frequent droughts, more extreme flooding, more erratic seasonal rainfall and accelerated melting of glaciers - with cascading effects on economies, ecosystems and all aspects of our daily lives", said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
"And yet, there is insufficient understanding of changes in the distribution, quantity, and quality of freshwater resources".
"aims to fill that knowledge gap and provide a concise overview of water availability in different parts of the world", he added.
"This will inform climate adaptation and mitigation investments as well as the
Water, water everywhere
Between 2001 and 2018,reported that a staggering 74 per cent of all natural disasters were water-related.
The first edition of the report looks at streamflow - the volume of water flowing through a river channel at any given time - and also assesses terrestrial water storage - in other words, all water on the land surface and sub-surface and the cryosphere (frozen water).
The report highlights a basic problem: a lack of accessible verified hydrological data.
WMO's Unified Data Policy seeks to accelerate the availability and sharing of hydrological data, including river discharge and transboundary river basins information.
Aside from river flow variations, overall terrestrial water storage was classified as below normal on the west coast of
It was above normal in
"Overall the negative trends are stronger than the positive ones", warned WMO, with several hotspots emerging including Patagonia, the Ganges and Indus headwaters, as well as the southwestern US.
The cryosphere - namely glaciers, snow cover, ice caps and, where present, permafrost - is the world's biggest natural reservoir of freshwater.
"Changes to cryosphere water resources affect food security, human health, ecosystem integrity and maintenance, and lead to significant impacts on economic and social development", said WMO, sometimes causing river flooding and flash floods due to glacier lake outbursts.
With rising temperatures, the annual glacier run-off typically increases at first, until a turning point, often called "peak water", is reached, upon which run-off declines.
The long-term projections of glacier run-off and the timing of peak water, are key inputs to long-term adaptation decisions, WMO added.
Copyright UN News Service. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com)., source