World unprepared for impact of climate change on mountain water supplies

The world faces increased flooding, droughts and possible conflicts due to the effects of climate change on fresh water supplies drawn from mountains but is “woefully unprepared” to tackle these risks, experts said.

Mountain-sourced water supplies, which provide about half of all drinking water worldwide, is becoming more unpredictable as warmer temperatures melt glaciers and change precipitation patterns and river levels, affecting countries unevenly. In some areas, such as the Alps, extra water from glaciers has caused flash floods while shrinking snow cover in the Andes has led to droughts in places like Chile.

To cope with the effects of climate change on water systems, dams will have to be redesigned and irrigation systems overhauled, says John Pomeroy, a professor at Canada’s University of Saskatchewan.