Importance and vulnerability of the world's water towers

Immerzeel, W. W.; Lutz, A. F.; Andrade, M.; Bahl, A.; Biemans, H.; Bolch, T.; Hyde, S.; Brumby, S.; Davies, B. J.; Elmore, A. C.; Emmer, A.; Feng, M.; Fernandez, A.; Haritashya, U.; Kargel, J. S.; et. al.


Mountains are the water towers of the world, supplying a substantial part of both natural and anthropogenic water demands(1,2). They are highly sensitive and prone to climate change(3,4), yet their importance and vulnerability have not been quantified at the global scale. Here we present a global water tower index (WTI), which ranks all water towers in terms of their water-supplying role and the downstream dependence of ecosystems and society. For each water tower, we assess its vulnerability related to water stress, governance, hydropolitical tension and future climatic and socioeconomic changes. We conclude that the most important (highest WTI) water towers are also among the most vulnerable, and that climatic and socio-economic changes will affect them profoundly. This could negatively impact 1.9 billion people living in (0.3 billion) or directly downstream of (1.6 billion) mountainous areas. Immediate action is required to safeguard the future of the world's most important and vulnerable water towers.

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Título según WOS: Importance and vulnerability of the world's water towers
Título según SCOPUS: Importance and vulnerability of the world’s water towers
Título de la Revista: NATURE
Volumen: 577
Número: 7790
Editorial: Nature Publishing Group
Fecha de publicación: 2020
Página de inicio: 364
Página final: 369
Idioma: English