New and innovative contributions will be needed from all of the social sciences. These contributions will be critical for understanding water-use behavior and for devising effective institutions to manage water in times of intensifying scarcity.
The motivation for improving the productivity of water in agricultural uses is partly to do a better job of managing scarcity and partly to ensure some (minimal) level of water for environmental uses. Environmental uses of water provide environmental amenities and environmental services that include air and water purification, production of useful biomass, provision of domestic water supply, power production and transportation, and environmental stability. Science can contribute to the resolution of conflicts, such as those between water development and species preservation, by elucidating the role of hydrologic processes in the behavior of the environmental and social systems in conflict, by defining the pivotal role that physical integrity of the hydrologic system plays in optimum management, and by providing an effective perspective for decision-making through de-emphasis of commodity-based approaches and emphasis on holistic concepts and processes.Climate Change Climate modeling is an evolving science, and varying degrees of reliability characterize the forecasts of future change that are derived from climate models. As noted above, the most reliable predictions are for continued warming in the present century causing less snowpack and earlier runoff. The prognosis that there will be greater variability in precipitation leading to more floods and droughts is also highly reliable, and it is predicted with some confidence that rainfall will increase at higher latitudes and decline in the subtropical regions.
However, accurate estimates of changes in the amount of precipitation in different regions and in different locales within regions are more difficult to forecast.. The science of climate change forecasting is evolving and should become more reliable with further research.ConclusionsThere is little question that science must play a critical role in forming a successful solution to the world’s emerging water problems. In the broadest sense, there are two distinct two distinct ways in which science needs to be used. First, there is significant existing scientific information that could be helpful in solving contemporary and anticipated problems, but it is not being used. The scientific underpinnings that justify the use of holistic, integrated ways of managing the water resources of a basin are strong and well known.