BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Climate Change Mitigation Could Exacerbate U.S. Water Deficits
Published: August 13, 2015
Posted: August 19, 2015

Ongoing integrated modeling efforts focus on devising sustainable climate change mitigation policies and jointly considering potential synergies and constraints within the climate-energy-water nexus. While there is evidence that climate warming will contribute to increasing intensity and duration of drought, understanding the overall impact of climate change mitigation on water resources requires accounting for the impact of mitigation-induced changes in water demands from human activities. In a study led by Department of Energy (DOE) scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), researchers used a regional integrated assessment model and a regional Earth system model at high spatial and temporal resolutions over the United States to compare the implications of two representative concentration pathways under consistent socioeconomic conditions. By using integrated, high-resolution models of human and natural system processes, the scientists show that in the United States, over the course of the 21st century and under one set of consistent socioeconomics, reductions in water stress from slower rates of climate change resulting from emission mitigation are overwhelmed by the increased water stress from the emission mitigation itself. The finding that the human dimension outpaces the benefits from mitigating climate change is contradictory to the general perception that climate change mitigation improves water conditions. This research shows the potential for unintended and negative consequences of climate change mitigation. Work was supported by PRIMA, a Laboratory Directed Research and Development program at PNNL. This research also leveraged capabilities funded by DOE’s Integrated Assessment Research and Earth System Modeling programs.

Reference: Hejazi, M. I., N. Voisin, L. Liu, L. M. Bramer, D. C. Fortin, J. E. Hathaway, M. Huang, P. Kyle, L. R. Leung, H.-Y. Li, Y. Liu, P. L. Patel, T. C. Pulsipher, J. S. Rice, T. K. Tesfa, C. R. Vernon, and Y. Zhou. 2015. “21st Century United States Emissions Mitigation Could Increase Water Stress more than the Climate Change It is Mitigating,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1421675112. (Reference link)

Contact: Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105, Bob Vallario, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5758
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Multisector Dynamics (formerly Integrated Assessment)

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)