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Cambridge Global Food Security

A Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge

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Foreseer Project: Testing the water

Testing the water:  Foreseer Project creates visually compelling messages about resource use


A new online tool enables users to assess not only how much water we use and for what, but also how we can mitigate future scarcity.

Water, like many other natural resources,is in both high demand and limited supply. In any one region, this precious substance is needed to sustain the domestic requirements of the population, irrigate crops, maintain ecosystems and assist in manufacturing and energy production.

Focusing on the state of California, a multidisciplinary group of Cambridge researchers has developed a model to calculate monthly and annual water demand. Moreover, because the model calculates future scenarios, it provides a means of assessing what can be done to mitigate water scarcity.

Dr Julian Allwood, who leads the Foreseer Project that created the tool, explained: “We’re aiming to create visually compelling messages about resource use now, and in the future, to help users understand the consequences of their choices. We want to help identify opportunities where efficiencies or demand reduction would be effective, and equally we need to demonstrate which actions would have only a little impact.”

For resource managers, policy makers and industry, understanding how to sustainably manage the competing demands on a limited resource is a considerable challenge. An estimated 1.2 billion people currently experience water scarcity and, as the population rises, demand will increasingly outstrip supply.

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16 Oct 2013