Severe water shortages loom in many regions of the world, including the Canadian Prairies, say scientists who warn that a sixth of Earth's population relies on water from glaciers and snow packs that are disappearing.
The Prairies are in line for more frequent and prolonged droughts in coming decades that could put agriculture at risk, says a report by leading climate and water researchers. Although climate models predict Canada will initially have a longer growing season because of global warming, the report suggests that water may not be available to sustain crops that depend on water from rivers that are fed from mountainous snow-packs. Such rivers include the Oldman and the Red Deer, and both branches of the Saskatchewan and the Athabasca, which also receive additional water from the melting of glaciers.
The deaths of an estimated 150,000 people a year can already be attributed to the extreme weather and medical problems associated with climate change, says the report published in the journal Nature. …