Articles | Volume 373
12 May 2016
 | 12 May 2016

Quantification of resilience to water scarcity, a dynamic measure in time and space

S. P. Simonovic and R. Arunkumar

Abstract. There are practical links between water resources management, climate change adaptation and sustainable development leading to reduction of water scarcity risk and re-enforcing resilience as a new development paradigm. Water scarcity, due to the global change (population growth, land use change and climate change), is of serious concern since it can cause loss of human lives and serious damage to the economy of a region. Unfortunately, in many regions of the world, water scarcity is, and will be unavoidable in the near future. As the scarcity is increasing, at the same time it erodes resilience, therefore global change has a magnifying effect on water scarcity risk. In the past, standard water resources management planning considered arrangements for prevention, mitigation, preparedness and recovery, as well as response. However, over the last ten years substantial progress has been made in establishing the role of resilience in sustainable development. Dynamic resilience is considered as a novel measure that provides for better understanding of temporal and spatial dynamics of water scarcity. In this context, a water scarcity is seen as a disturbance in a complex physical-socio-economic system. Resilience is commonly used as a measure to assess the ability of a system to respond and recover from a failure. However, the time independent static resilience without consideration of variability in space does not provide sufficient insight into system's ability to respond and recover from the failure state and was mostly used as a damage avoidance measure. This paper provides an original systems framework for quantification of resilience. The framework is based on the definition of resilience as the ability of physical and socio-economic systems to absorb disturbance while still being able to continue functioning. The disturbance depends on spatial and temporal perspectives and direct interaction between impacts of disturbance (social, health, economic, and other) and adaptive capacity of the system to absorb disturbance. Utility of the dynamic resilience is demonstrated through a single-purpose reservoir operation subject to different failure (water scarcity) scenarios. The reservoir operation is simulated using the system dynamics (SD) feedback-based object-oriented simulation approach.