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Water 2016, 8(4), 163; doi:10.3390/w8040163

Potential Impacts of Food Production on Freshwater Availability Considering Water Sources

Institute for Water Science, Suntory Global Innovation Center Limited, 8-1-1 Seikadai, Seika-cho, Soraku-gun, Kyoto 619-0284, Japan
Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan
Faculty of Environmental Studies, Tokyo City University, 3-3-1 Ushikubo-nishi, Tsuzuki-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 224-8551, Japan
Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Meguro-ku, Komaba, Tokyo 153-8505, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Stephan Pfister
Received: 20 January 2016 / Revised: 12 April 2016 / Accepted: 14 April 2016 / Published: 20 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Water Consumption)
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We quantify the potential impacts of global food production on freshwater availability (water scarcity footprint; WSF) by applying the water unavailability factor (fwua) as a characterization factor and a global water resource model based on life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). Each water source, including rainfall, surface water, and groundwater, has a distinct fwua that is estimated based on the renewability rate of each geographical water cycle. The aggregated consumptive water use level for food production (water footprint inventory; WI) was found to be 4344 km3/year, and the calculated global total WSF was 18,031 km3 H2Oeq/year, when considering the difference in water sources. According to the fwua concept, which is based on the land area required to obtain a unit volume of water from each source, the calculated annual impact can also be represented as 98.5 × 106 km2. This value implies that current agricultural activities requires a land area that is over six times larger than global total cropland. We also present the net import of the WI and WSF, highlighting the importance of quantitative assessments for utilizing global water resources to achieve sustainable water use globally. View Full-Text
Keywords: agriculture; freshwater availability; life cycle impact assessment; virtual water trade; water footprint agriculture; freshwater availability; life cycle impact assessment; virtual water trade; water footprint

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Yano, S.; Hanasaki, N.; Itsubo, N.; Oki, T. Potential Impacts of Food Production on Freshwater Availability Considering Water Sources. Water 2016, 8, 163.

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