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Keywords:

  • economics;
  • water and climate;
  • climate change;
  • socioeconomic impacts of climate change;
  • adaptation to climate change;
  • water management and climate change

ABSTRACT: A greenhouse warming would have major effects on water supplies and demands. A framework for examining the socioeconomic impacts associated with changes in the long-term availability of water is developed and applied to the hydrologic implications of the Canadian and British Hadley2 general circulation models (GCMs) for the 18 water resource regions in the conterminous United States. The climate projections of these two GCMs have very different implications for future water supplies and costs. The Canadian model suggests most of the nation would be much drier in the year 2030. Under the least-cost management scenario the drier climate could add nearly $105 billion to the estimated costs of balancing supplies and demands relative to the costs without climate change. Measures to protect instream flows and irrigation could result in significantly higher costs. In contrast, projections based on the Hadley model suggest water supplies would increase throughout much of the nation, reducing the costs of balancing water supplies with demands relative to the no-climate-change case.