05/23/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Climate Change Threatens World's Great Rivers, Study Says

Some of the mightiest rivers on the planet, including the Ganges, the Niger, and the Yellow river in China, are drying up because of climate change, a study of global waterways warned yesterday. The study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado found that global warming has had a far more damaging impact on rivers than had been realised and that, overwhelmingly, those rivers in highly populated areas were the most severely affected. That could threaten food and water supply to millions of people living in some of the world's poorest regions, the study warned. 3

A U.S. study shows rivers in some of the world's most populous regions are losing water, with some losses attributed to climate change. In contrast, the scientists reported greater stream flow over sparsely populated areas near the Arctic Ocean, where snow and ice are rapidly melting. 1

"In the subtropics this is devastating, but the continent affected most is Africa," said the center's Kevin Trenberth. While researchers said direct human influence such as dam construction and the diversion of rivers for agriculture was a factor, that influence "is likely small" compared to changes in climate. 2
  1. Earth's Major Rivers Have Low Water Levels (UPI)
  2. Climate Change Threatens World's Great Rivers, Study Says (Yale Environment 360)
  3. Climate Change Threatens Mighty Rivers (The Guardian)