The first global system to monitor the movement of the world’s water and better prepare for floods and droughts is being developed.
Scientists at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) are working on the Hydrological Status and Outlook System (HydroSOS) – a modelling and reporting tool to warn governments, aid agencies and populations affected by climate dangers of this kind.
Researchers suggest 20 million people around the world are at risk from flooding and say this could rise to 50 million in the next 15 years.
Droughts across the globe is thought to cost up to $8 billion (£6bn) a year, primarily due to agricultural losses.
Professor Alan Jenkins, Chair of the WMO HydroSOS Task Team, said: “With the many challenges posed by climate change and a rising global population, the need to have in place an operational global system capable of assessing the current status of surface or groundwater systems and how they will change in the coming weeks or months, is becoming more acute.”