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Climate change is altering rivers around the world

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A new study shows climate change—not water and land management—plays a crucial role in changes in rivers and streams at the global level.

Climate change affects the water balance of our planet: depending on the region and the time of year, this can influence the amount of water in rivers potentially resulting in more flooding or drought.

River flow is an important indicator of water resources available to humans and the environment. The amount of available water also depends on other factors, such as direct interventions in the water cycle or land use change. If, for example, water is diverted for irrigation or regulated via reservoirs, or forests are cleared and monocultures grown in their place, this can have an impact on river flow.

However, researchers have not yet investigated how river flow has changed worldwide in recent years using direct observations. Similarly, researchers had not to date clarified the question of whether or not globally visible changes are attributable to climate change or to water and land management.

Now, researchers have successfully broken down the influence of these factors, after analyzing data from 7,250 measuring stations worldwide. The study, published in the journal Science , demonstrates that river flow changed systematically between […]

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