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Managing water as China warms: new insights from regional models

Climate change adds pressure on China’s water resources, which are already under intense stress. Therefore, the water sector is a top priority in China’s national adaptation programme. This policy brief summarises the Adapting to Climate Change in China (ACCC) project’s findings on the past and future impacts of climate variability and change on water resources in China, and explores the implications for management and policy.

Key findings include the following.

  • Uneven rainfall is already causing frequent floods and droughts in China. Therefore, the country must be prepared to shift its water regimes under climate change.
  • Population growth, urbanisation and industrialisation are increasing demand and polluting water sources.
  • The prevailing pattern of the dry north and wet south seems to persist. This will exacerbate water scarcity in some northern regions, which are particularly important for agriculture.
  • As China’s economy grows and competition for water intensifies, the country will need to develop robust systems for managing its water resources, especially in the water-scarce north.