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Impact of climate change on the hydrologic cycle and implications for society

Dagbegnon C., Sohoulande Djebou, Vijay P. Singh


Should we attribute all natural disasters, such as floods, droughts, extreme rainfall, extreme snowfall, glacial melting, changes in space-time distribution of rainfall, changes in ecosystems, earthquakes, fire hazards, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, heat waves, extreme cold weather, wind storms and health epidemics, to climate change? This question often comes up when we review the burgeoning literature on climate change and its impacts. Although climate change is still being debated in certain political, social and economic quarters, there is overwhelming and undeniable scientific evidence supporting climate change. Climate change impacts virtually every facet of society — scientific, technological, environmental, ecological, social, cultural, economic, and political. As a result, strategies for mitigating the impacts and adapting to climate change must be broad and integrated. Some of the impacts stem from the chain reactions in the earth system. Therefore, the socio-economic dimension should be an integral part of climate change discussion. Current literature on climate change is less than balanced among domains of scientific and human thought. This would probably change in the future, since the adaptation strategies are becoming an increasing concern in the scientific community. This article examines the impacts caused by climate change on the hydrologic cycle and discusses their repercussions for the society. It also provides suggestions that may be relevant for redefining policies aiming to improve water security at local and global levels.


climate change, hydrologic cycle, water crisis, environment, society, adaptation, policy

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