Reliability of water-related environmental footprints of products
Economic development and population growth have given rise to concerns related to overexploitation of water resources. Freshwater ecosystems are greatly affected by changes in water availability caused by anthropogenic activities. There is therefore the need to develop representative and reliable methods and indicators to quantify water footprints able to account for water consumption as well as changes in water availability associated with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The goal of this project is to build and evaluate a model framework to quantify the impacts of water consumption and GHG emissions on freshwater availability and biodiversity. Global regression models will be developed to evaluate changes in relevant hydrological parameters (e.g. long-term streamflow and lake volumes) resulting from water consumption and changes in GHG emissions. Consequently, freshwater species richness will be related to such hydrological parameters in order to establish ecological regression-based relationships to quantify the diversity of different taxa, including macro-invertebrates and various vertebrate groups. Finally, the hydrological and ecological models will be combined to assess the impact of a unit of water consumption or GHG emission on freshwater biodiversity. These results will be applied in a case study in order to quantify the freshwater biodiversity footprints of consumer products and/or regional household water consumption.