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Changes in Freshwater Availability and Quality: An Effect of Climate Change

Limited Water Availability and Quantity

Changing weather patterns because of higher temperatures will increase the amount and intensity of droughts. While melting glaciers will give more freshwater for a short time, they can never be restored. This means that areas dependent on glacial runoff for freshwater will not have that necessary water.

Degrading Water Quality

Water quality will degrade because of climate change. One way that this will happen is through an increase of rain instead of snow on mountains. While this seems like a good thing, it has a negative effect on groundwater flow, which is key for rural communities that do not have running water. Snowmelt releases water slowly and feeds streams and rivers both above and below ground, as well as reservoirs. However, rain can flow off a mountain quickly and can overflow reservoirs. Because it flows quicker, it will not seep into the ground and will affect groundwater flow. This means that people that rely on melt-off or groundwater for their freshwater supply will have poor quality water.

Surface water quality is also decreasing as higher temperatures increase the number of deluges, which in turn help pollutants contaminate water supplies. This has an effect on more than mountain run-off water; every water source can be affected by this. 

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