Water Resources Research (WRR), one of the most impactful water research journals published by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), recently accepted a study led by University of Maryland (UMD) Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOSC) PhD student, Neal Graham.
The paper, titled “Water Sector Assumptions for the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways in an Integrated Modeling framework”, delves into the importance of water management in five possible global futures.
Graham’s work employed the innovative Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM), an integrated assessment modeling tool for exploring consequences and responses to global change developed by Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). GCAM uses representations of the economy, energy sector, land use, and water resources— subsequently linked to a simple climate model– to explore the effects of climate mitigation policies on different world regions.
Graham used GCAM to illustrate five different possible global futures, each with different societal assumptions that affect water demand and usage.
These five scenarios, dubbed the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), represent varying degrees of challenges to future climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. These scenarios will be used in combination with climate change assumptions from the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), which are trajectories adopted by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The RCPs describe four climate futures, all of which are possible dependent upon future greenhouse-gas emissions. Together, they make a comprehensive set of future change assumptions and provide the basis for the next set of scenarios used for IPCC’s Assessment Reports.
One of the key advances of Graham’s study is in its inclusion of water and associated availability constraints, previously unconsidered in this context.
Perhaps Graham’s largest finding is the potential reduction in global water demands if more efficient technologies particularly in the agricultural sector, are adopted in low-income regions.
Graham, advised by ESSIC director and AOSC Chair Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, also credits University of Alberta Associate Professor Evan G. R. Davies and JGCRI Research Scientists Mohamad I. Hejazi and Katherine Calvin as being contributors to the research.
To read Graham’s paper in its entirety, click here: Water Sector Assumptions for the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways in an Integrated Modeling framework