Vulnerability assessment of climate-induced water shortage in Phoenix

Patricia Gober, Craig W. Kirkwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Global warming has profound consequences for the climate of the American Southwest and its overallocated water supplies. This paper uses simulation modeling and the principles of decision making under uncertainty to translate climate information into tools for vulnerability assessment and urban climate adaptation. A dynamic simulation model, WaterSim, is used to explore future water-shortage conditions in Phoenix. Results indicate that policy action will be needed to attain water sustainability in 2030, even without reductions in river flows caused by climate change. Challenging but feasible changes in lifestyle and slower rates of population growth would allow the region to avoid shortage conditions and achieve groundwater sustainability under all but the most dire climate scenarios. Changes in lifestyle involve more native desert landscaping and fewer pools in addition to slower growth and higher urban densities. There is not a single most likely or optimal future for Phoenix. Urban climate adaptation involves using science-based models to anticipate water shortage and manage climate risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21295-21299
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 14 2010


  • Climate change
  • Decision making under uncertainty
  • Simulation modeling
  • Water sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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