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Sustainability 2015, 7(8), 9753-9772;

Water Scarcity Footprints by Considering the Differences in 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: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 7 May 2015 / Revised: 2 July 2015 / Accepted: 8 July 2015 / Published: 23 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Water resources have uneven distributions over time, space, and source; thus, potential impacts related to water use should be evaluated by determining the differences in water resources rather than by simply summing water use. We propose a model for weighting renewable water resources and present a case study assessing water scarcity footprints as indicators of the potential impacts of water use based on a life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). We assumed that the potential impact of a unit amount of water used is proportional to the land area or time required to obtain a unit of water from each water source. The water unavailability factor (fwua) was defined using a global hydrological modeling system with a global resolution of 0.5 × 0.5 degrees. This model can address the differences in water sources using an adjustable reference volume and temporal and spatial resolutions based on the flexible demands of users. The global virtual water flows were characterized using the fwua for each water source. Although nonrenewable and nonlocal blue water constituted only 3.8% of the total flow of the water footprint inventory, this increased to 29.7% of the total flow of the water scarcity footprint. We can estimate the potential impacts of water use that can be instinctively understood using fwua. View Full-Text
Keywords: characterization factor; freshwater availability; life cycle impact assessment; water footprint; water scarcity characterization factor; freshwater availability; life cycle impact assessment; water footprint; water scarcity

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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. Water Scarcity Footprints by Considering the Differences in Water Sources. Sustainability 2015, 7, 9753-9772.

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