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Climate change impacts on water resources

Author: Time: 07/22/2016 Read: 1316

As climate change warms the atmosphere, altering the hydrologic cycle, changes to the amount, timing, form, and intensity of precipitation will continue. Other expected changes include the flow of water in watersheds, as well as the quality of aquatic and marine environments. These impacts are likely to affect the programs designed to protect water quality, public health, and safety.
Warmer temperatures increase the rate of evaporation of water into the atmosphere, in effect increasing the atmosphere's capacity to "hold" water.  Increased evaporation may dry out some areas and fall as excess precipitation on other areas. Changes in the amount of rain falling during storms provide evidence that the water cycle is already changing.
Heavy downpours can increase the amount of runoff into rivers and lakes, washing sediment, nutrients, pollutants, trash, animal waste, and other materials into water supplies, making them unusable, unsafe, or in need of water treatment. 
Freshwater resources along the coasts face risks from sea level rise. As the sea rises, salt water moves into fresh water areas. As more fresh water is removed from rivers for human use, salt water will move farther upstream. Drought can cause coastal water resources to become more saline as freshwater supplies from rivers are reduced. Water infrastructure in coastal cities, including sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities, faces risks from rising sea levels and the damaging impacts of storm surges.