Climate Change and Water: Time for New Thinking in Research?

50 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2012 Last revised: 7 Feb 2012

A.M.M. Adeeb

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Date Written: January 1, 2012


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.

Keywords: climate change, water, water policy, science, global warming, adaptation, mitigation, review, institute of water policy

JEL Classification: O20, Q55, Q56, Q58

Suggested Citation

Adeeb, A.M.M., Climate Change and Water: Time for New Thinking in Research? (January 1, 2012). Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Research Paper No. LKYSPP11-35 IWP. Available at SSRN: or

A.M.M. Adeeb (Contact Author)

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy ( email )

Singapore 117591
66011266 (Phone)

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