Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsClimate change is projected to affect the availability and distribution of rainfall, snowmelt, river flows, and groundwater and further deteriorate water quality used for food production purposes. Many regions in the world have experienced an increase in precipitation. This is expected to continue as climate change persists. Precipitation events, particularly during intense storms and hurricanes, can cause flooding and jeopardize water quality. Increased water runoff as a result of these events can pick up animal waste, pesticides, fertilizers, pollutants, and waterborne diseases and allow them to enter into waterways. In addition, these events can overwhelm sewage systems, causing untreated sewage to flow into water sources. As a result, a number of waterborne diseases and contaminants can enter into the food production system.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 secondsConversely, some regions will experience decreased precipitation and longer and more frequent droughts. These conditions can also impact waterborne disease. As water sources decline, the concentration of contaminants increases, making them more likely to affect plant, animal, and human health. Lack of clean water prevents adequate hydration and disrupts good hygiene and can increase the risk of water-washed disease. That is, spread of disease due to lack of washing. Periods of drought impact crops and livestock production and increase the price of food. Climate change is characterized by rising carbon dioxide emissions and temperatures. This increases the temperature and acidity of the oceans where we source aquatic food.

Skip to 2 minutes and 3 secondsThe combination of higher surface water and increased nutrient loading from agricultural runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms that produce biotoxins. Consumption of fish or shellfish contaminated with these toxins can cause neurological damage, respiratory harm, skin irritations, and diarrhea. Increases in ocean acidity also threatens coral reefs and the future of shellfish like oysters and mussels. Moreover, changes in the distribution of fish and plankton are also expected, as suitable habitats shift from warming ocean temperatures, changes in winds, ice thickness, pH, and nutrient supply. Responding to the challenges of climate change impacts on water resources requires adaptation strategies at the local, regional, national, and global levels.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 secondsCountries are being urged to improve and consolidate their water resources management systems and to identify and implement effective strategies which have positive development outcomes that are resilient to climate change.

Climate Change and its Impact on Water Health

We will now take a closer look at the impact of climate change on water health and the consequences to the food system.

Climate change is projected to affect the availability and distribution of rainfall, snow melt, river flows and groundwater, and further deteriorate water quality used for food production purposes.

Many regions in the world have experienced an increase in precipitation. The increased flooding and water run-off as a result of these events can pick up animal wastes, pesticides, fertilizers, pollutants and waterborne diseases and allow them to enter into waterways and the food production system.

Conversely, some regions will experience decreased precipitation and longer and more frequent droughts. As a result water sources decline and the concentration of contaminants increases, making them more likely to affect plant, animal and human health. Lack of clean water prevents adequate hydration and disrupts good hygiene and can increase the risk of water washed disease. Periods of drought impact crops and livestock production and increase the price of food.

Please watch the video provided on climate change and water health and share your thoughts on the topic with your fellow learners.

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This video is from the free online course:

Farm to Fork: Sustainable Food Production in a Changing Environment

EIT Food