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Water is a major theme in the study of global warming.
Indeed, the effects of climate change are first and foremost visible in the global water cycle of evaporation, cloud formation, condensation and precipitation.
The higher the emission of greenhouse gasses, the faster global warming progresses. Higher temperatures result in increased evaporation, which in turn adds more water to the atmosphere: a 1°C rise in surface temperature causes approximately a 3% evaporation increase. The consequences are excessive precipitation, more frequent and major floods and hurricanes in certain areas, but also longer or unseasonal droughts in others.
Higher temperatures also cause sea water to expand and sea ice and landlocked ice sheets, glaciers and snowfields to melt, resulting in an ever higher sea level.
In its Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that no one will escape the impact of climate change. If we fail to change our ways, we will have to face a number of serious consequences: decreased drinking water quality, more disease, failing harvests, economic crises, conflicts and mass migrations. The battle for drinking water will be without mercy. Countries in the South are presently suffering the greatest impact and are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
According to the IPCC, Integrated Water Resources Management is a most adequate instrument to identify and implement those measures necessary to counter the negative effects of global warming. Taking into account all present and future users (including nature), Integrated Water Resources Management administers both quantity and quality of water supplies, with respect for surrounding ecosystems, in parallel with all necessary land management.