The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned that the global hydrological cycle is increasingly out of balance due to climate change and has made a call for a fundamental policy shift towards better monitoring.
“We are seeing much heavier precipitation episodes and flooding. And at the opposite extreme, more evaporation, dry soils and more intense droughts,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas (above) in a statement as the UN agency released its State of Global Water Resources report for 2022.
Destructive droughts and heavy rains are causing harm, while melting snow and glaciers heighten flood risks and endanger long-term water security.
The UN weather agency’s State of Global Water Resources Report 2022 emphasises the need to better understand freshwater resources and urges a fundamental policy shift. It calls for enhanced monitoring, data sharing, cross-border cooperation, and increased investments to manage water extremes effectively.
“This report offers a comprehensive, and consistent overview of water resources worldwide, highlighting the influence of climate, environmental, and societal changes,” Taalas added.
Substantiated by field observations, satellite-based remote sensing, and numerical modelling to evaluate global water resources, the WMO State of Global Water Resources Report 2022 offers in-depth data on key hydrological factors like groundwater, evaporation, streamflow, terrestrial water storage, soil moisture, cryosphere (frozen water), reservoir inflows, and hydrological disasters.
The report reveals that over 50% of global catchment areas experienced deviations from normal river discharge conditions, with most of them drier than normal, citing China’s Yangtze River as an example.
On the other extreme, it cited floods in Pakistan that killed more than 1,700 people last year.
“Far too little is known about the true state of the world’s freshwater resources. We cannot manage what we do not measure,” the WMO said in a statement.
The water report is only the second such analysis done by the WMO and includes data from large river basins, including river discharge, groundwater, evaporation, soil moisture and reservoir inflow.