Nov. 18th USGCRP Seminar on Sustainable Water Resources and Global Climate Change: With Emphasis on the Western U.S.

Tony Socci tsocci at
Thu Nov 14 11:49:52 EST 1996

             U.S. Global Change Research Program Second Monday Seminar Series 

            Sustainable Water Resources in the Next Century, With Special 
               Reference to Global Climate Change and the Western U.S. 

What critical water issues face us as the 21st century approaches?  How is 
the western U.S. particularly affected by projected trends in water 
availability, water use, and water partitioning?  How might projected 
climate changes affect these trends and the economy in the western U.S.? 
Are there signs that climate change has already begun to alter water 
supplies in the West?   What can we do to better prepare for the regional 
impacts of climate change on water resources? 

                                                             Public Invited 

                                   Monday, November 18, 1996, 3:15-4:45 PM 
                        Rayburn House Office Bldg., Room B369, Washington, DC 
                                                         Reception Following 


Dr. Robert Hirsch, Chief Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the 
Interior, Reston, VA. 


Dr. Peter H. Gleick, Co-Founder and President, Pacific Institute for 
Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, CA. 

Dr. W. James Shuttleworth, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, 
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. 


     State of the World's Water and the Implications for the Western U.S. 

As of 1990 nearly 2 billion people worldwide lacked access to what the UN 
defines as clean drinking water and adequate sanitation services.  The lack 
of these basic services led to an estimated 250 million cases of 
water-related disease annually, and between 5 and 10 million deaths, mostly 
of infants and small children.  Yet we are falling behind in our race to 
provide these services and between 1990 and 2000 an estimated 900 million 
more people will be born in regions without access to adequate clean water. 
In addition, agricultural production is constrained by a lack of 
irrigation water or systems.  Unless these problems are addressed, human 
suffering in the future will worsen. 

At the same time, nearly half of the world's land area is in an 
international river basin and most of these basins lack even the most 
fundamental agreements on equitable water sharing. This greatly increases 
the risks of conflicts over scarce water.  There are also signs that we are 
falling behind in the race to provide adequate food for the world's growing 
population.  The amount of land per capita that is under irrigation is 
falling for the first time in this century; this raises serious questions 
about our ability to provide food for a world of eight or nine or ten 
billion people, when we cannot reliably do so for a world of about six 

While the United States is relatively water-rich, the western U.S. is a 
water-scarce region that is experiencing increasing competition for limited 
water supplies.  Over the next several years, difficult decisions will have 
to be made about water allocations for agricultural production, urban 
development, and environmental protection.  At the same time, new concerns 
about global climatic change and the possible consequences for regional 
water supplies and quality are complicating the challenge of planning and 
management.  While the debate about global climate changes continues, there 
is a growing consensus that among the most significant impacts will be 
effects on water resources and water management.  To date, however, there 
has been relatively little recognition of the potential for changes among 
water agencies and planners. 

Dr. Peter Gleick will offer an overview of critical global and regional 
water issues and place them in the context of achieving sustainable water 
management in the western United States in the next century. 

                            Managing a Changing World: A Personal Perspective 

As a follow-on perspective, Dr. James Shuttleworth will make the case that 
progress in global change research over the last decade has brought about 
the realization that at least some aspects of global climate change are 
likely to be manageable.  This suggests that it would be productive and 
timely to refocus research within the US Global Change Research Program 
(USGCRP) so as to provide an understanding of how to manage sustained 
development more effectively, recognizing that the world's climate will 
change. He will argue that the USGCRP is overly focused on predicting long 
term change in the globally-averaged surface temperature and that this is 
beyond the time horizon of those managing sustained development for the 
future. Dr. Shuttleworth will argue, therefore, that greater emphasis 
should be given to understanding and predicting phenomena such as regional 
precipitation patterns and characteristics. He will suggest that focusing 
research on predicting likely changes in precipitation statistics over the 
next 30 years and on predicting precipitation for the next 18 months would 
directly align the USGCRP with sustainable development needs. 

On the basis of these arguments, Dr. Shuttleworth will propose that the 
USGCRP take the following actions: First, develop predictions of the rate 
of changes in water resources for the US and the rest of the world. 
Second, encourage use of a planning period for all US water development 
projects that recognizes the relative magnitudes of the predicted gradual 
change in regional precipitation and the predicted short term variability 
in precipitation. Third, define as a policy goal maintaining the rate of 
global change such that the human-induced change in precipitation remains 
small compared to natural variability.  Finally, refocus global change 
research on predicting the variability and change in regional precipitation 
over the next 30 years. 


Dr. Peter H. Gleick is Co-Founder and President of the Pacific Institute 
for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, 
California.  Dr. Gleick was educated at Yale University and the Energy and 
Resources Group of the University of California, Berkeley.  He is a leading 
expert on global freshwater issues, environmental security problems, and 
the impacts of climatic change on fresh water resources.  His research 
includes work on the sustainable use of water, water conflicts in the 
Middle East, water planning in California, the western US, and 
internationally, and the connections between water, population, and 
development.  He serves on a variety of national and international 
environmental panels, including the Scientific Advisory Group of the 
President's Council on Sustainable Development, the Global Environmental 
Change Committee of the American Geophysical Union, and the Comprehensive 
Freshwater Assessment of the United Nations. 

Dr. Gleick received a MacArthur Foundation post-doctoral fellowship in 1986 
to study the impacts of the greenhouse effect on water resources, and a 
MacArthur Foundation Research and Writing Fellowship in 1988 to explore the 
implications of global environmental changes with respect to water and 
international security.  He currently directs programs at the Pacific 
Institute looking at the links between global environmental issues and 
international security and at a wide range of water-resources problems, 
including the sustainable use of water, basic water requirements for human 
and environmental use, water quality, and the history and nature of 
disputes over water in the Middle East and the western U.S.   His book, 
Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World's Fresh Water Resources, was 
published by Oxford University Press in late 1993. 

Dr. W. James Shuttleworth is an internationally recognized expert in the 
theory and modeling of land surface-atmosphere interactions. Over the last 
decade he has led two major Anglo-Brazilian field experiments in the Amazon 
basin. As member and then Chair of the IGBP/WCRP Joint Working Group on 
Land Surface Experiments, he coordinated large-scale, multinational field 
experiments in France, Spain and the Sahel. His current interests include 
research into the improved representation of land surface interactions in 
General Circulation Models and, in particular, on developing methods to 
assimilate remotely sensed soil moisture into hydrological models and on 
using remotely sensed data to improve the description of mixed vegetation. 
He is presently engaged in collaborative research projects with both the 
National Center for Environmental Prediction and the European Center for 
Medium-range Weather Forecasting to improve weather and climate prediction 
and to facilitate the interpretation of predictions in water resource 

Dr. Shuttleworth obtained his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the 
University of Manchester (UK) where, in 1993, he was awarded an honorary 
doctorate degree in science. He later served as Head of the Hydrological 
Processes Division at the UK Institute of Hydrology. Since 1993, he has 
served as Professor of Hydrometeorology at the University of Arizona. He is 
a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the Royal Meteorological 
Society and the European Geophysical Society.  Professor Shuttleworth 
serves on the National Research Council's (NRC) Committee on Global Change 
Research and on the NRC's Global Ocean-Atmosphere-Land System Panel.  He is 
active in the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP) as Focus 
Chair in their core project 'Biospheric Aspects of the Hydrological Cycle', 
and in the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) as leader of the research 
initiative on Coupled Hydrologic-Atmospheric Models within the Global 
Energy and Water-Cycle Experiment Continental-Scale International Project. 

                     The Next Seminar is scheduled for Monday, December 9, 1996 

                   Planned Topic - The Economics of Climate Change Impacts and 
                         Mitigation: The Importance of Values and Assumptions 

For more information please contact: 

Anthony D. Socci, Ph.D., U.S. Global Change Research Program Office 
Code YS-1, 300 E St., SW, Washington, DC 20546 
Telephone: (202) 358-1532; Fax: (202) 358-4103 

Additional information on the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) 
and this Seminar Series is available on the USGCRP Home Page at: Normally these seminars are held on the second 
Monday of each month. 

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