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Structure and controls of the global virtual water trade network

Suweis, S., Konar, M., Dalin, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2123-9622, Hanasaki, N., Rinaldo, A. and Rodriguez-Iturbe, I. (2011) Structure and controls of the global virtual water trade network. Geophysical Research Letters, 38 (10). L10403. ISSN 0094-8276

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Identification Number: 10.1029/2011GL046837


Recurrent or ephemeral water shortages are a crucial global challenge, in particular because of their impacts on food production. The global character of this challenge is reflected in the trade among nations of virtual water, i.e., the amount of water used to produce a given commodity. We build, analyze and model the network describing the transfer of virtual water between world nations for staple food products. We find that all the key features of the network are well described by a model that reproduces both the topological and weighted properties of the global virtual water trade network, by assuming as sole controls each country's gross domestic product and yearly rainfall on agricultural areas. We capture and quantitatively describe the high degree of globalization of water trade and show that a small group of nations play a key role in the connectivity of the network and in the global redistribution of virtual water. Finally, we illustrate examples of prediction of the structure of the network under future political, economic and climatic scenarios, suggesting that the crucial importance of the countries that trade large volumes of water will be strengthened.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 American Geophysical Union
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2015 11:51
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 00:15
Projects: 220020138, RINEC‐227612, 200021 124930/1
Funders: James S. McDonnell Foundation, ERS, SFN/FNS

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