July 17 () –
A new study that has evaluated how climate change and the evolution of society could affect the surface water quality until the end of the century using a new global model, call for “proactive measures” to protect the quality of these waters throughout the planetas published in the journal ‘Nature Water’.
As the world’s population continues to grow, ensuring access to clean and safe water has become an increasingly important concern, but little is known about how surface water quality will change in the future.
Recent scientific research has shed light on the potential challenges that surface water quality may face in the coming years, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Although surface water quality is expected to improve in most developed countries, there is an important caveat: the outlook for the poorest nations is bleak“, they point out.
The new study has projected an increase in surface water pollution in sub-Saharan Africa. These findings highlight the need to take proactive measures to protect surface water resources and safeguard the well-being of communities.
The work, led by Edward Jones, a researcher at the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands), underlines the importance of equitable and sustainable development, especially in regions that are expected to experience the greatest challenges. Using a new global model, he assessed how climate change and societal evolution might affect surface water quality up to the end of the century.
“Regardless of climate change and the socioeconomic scenario, there will be a sharp increase in the number of people in sub-Saharan Africa exposed to poor surface water quality warns Jones. This pattern is not replicated consistently in any other region of the world.”
Even in the most optimistic future scenario, the number of people exposed to pollutant concentration exceedances in sub-Saharan Africa will more than double. On the other hand, according to the most pessimistic hypotheses, the number of people exposed to the poor quality of surface water can be multiplied by five.
“With the combination of the sharp degradation of water quality and the drastic increase in the number of people exposed to poor surface water quality, our paper concludes that sub-Saharan Africa will become the hotspot for water pollution superficial in the future,” he adds.
According to Jones, the challenges are multiple. Diseases transmitted by pathogen-contaminated water can pose a significant risk to human populations. With an increasing world population, the availability of good quality water for irrigation is of paramount importance.
Additionally, energy production, key to global development, can be hampered by a combination of low water levels and high temperatures. Thus, the study underscores the importance of limiting both climate change and anthropogenic water pollution to safeguard both human livelihoods and ecosystem health in the future..