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The measurement of water scarcity: Defining a meaningful indicator

Damkjaer, S; Taylor, R; (2017) The measurement of water scarcity: Defining a meaningful indicator. Ambio , 46 (5) pp. 513-531. 10.1007/s13280-017-0912-z. Green open access

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Abstract

Metrics of water scarcity and stress have evolved over the last three decades from simple threshold indicators to holistic measures characterising human environments and freshwater sustainability. Metrics commonly estimate renewable freshwater resources using mean annual river runoff, which masks hydrological variability, and quantify subjectively socio-economic conditions characterising adaptive capacity. There is a marked absence of research evaluating whether these metrics of water scarcity are meaningful. We argue that measurement of water scarcity (1) be redefined physically in terms of the freshwater storage required to address imbalances in intra- and inter-annual fluxes of freshwater supply and demand; (2) abandons subjective quantifications of human environments and (3) be used to inform participatory decision-making processes that explore a wide range of options for addressing freshwater storage requirements beyond dams that include use of renewable groundwater, soil water and trading in virtual water. Further, we outline a conceptual framework redefining water scarcity in terms of freshwater storage.

Type: Article
Title: The measurement of water scarcity: Defining a meaningful indicator
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s13280-017-0912-z
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13280-017-0912-z
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Scarcity indicator; Scarcity metric; Storage; Water scarcity; Water scarcity indicator; Water stress
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1556317
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