Do Regional Disparities in Research on Climate and Water Influence Adaptive Capacity?

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As part of a long-term effort to both improve access to information on climate change and freshwater resources, and to understand the state of the science, we compiled an electronic bibliography of scientific literature in that area. We analyzed the distribution of information on climatic impacts on freshwater resources, with an emphasis on differences between developed and developing regions as well as differences in the types and focus of research carried out among regions. There has been more research overall in developed countries than in the developing world. Proportionally more of the available research on natural and human systems pertains to developed regions, while most of the analysis done in developing countries is limited to higher-level climatology and hydrology. We argue that scientific information and understanding are important elements of the ability to adapt to potential climatic changes. The distribution of the scientific literature in our database suggests that the types of science most directly relevant to adaptive capacity are skewed towards developed countries, which may exacerbate existing disparities in adaptive capacity, and ultimately worsen the consequences of climatic impacts in developing countries.

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