Climate Change and Water: Time for New Thinking in Research?
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
January 1, 2012
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Research Paper No. LKYSPP11-35 IWP
In this paper, an attempt is made to review recent research on the synergy between climate change and water, specifically the attention paid to this area from the environmental science and climate change academic communities. We scanned the titles of over 22,000 research papers from the top 12 journals from 2006-2010 in these two disciplines, and analyzed in detail 135 papers specifically discussing climate change and water together. Broadly, the following topics were covered in the papers surveyed: modeling; rainfall, temperature, oscillations and circulations; stream/river flow, runoff; irrigation and agriculture; floods; and policy related. We found modeling studies (on global warming, rainfall, the hydrological cycle) had the most papers, while policy related ones numbered just a few. The majority of research was skewed towards developed countries while developing countries, which are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, received lesser attention in areas that are most important to them, like floods, agriculture/irrigation and stream/river flow. We conclude by sounding a note of caution about the inherent uncertainties of modeling studies, highlight the broad agreement on increasing extreme weather events, and emphasize that the adaptation discourse and practice must incorporate both hard and soft measures. We also suggest some new approaches and research areas to tackle the pervasive, multidisciplinary and crosscutting domain of climate change and water.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 50
Keywords: climate change, water, water policy, science, global warming, adaptation, mitigation, review, institute of water policy
JEL Classification: O20, Q55, Q56, Q58
Date posted: February 5, 2012 ; Last revised: February 7, 2012