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Grafton RQ, J Pittock, R Davis, J Williams, GB Fu, M Warburton, B Udall, R McKenzie, XB Yu, N Che, D Connell, Q Jiang, T Kompas, A Lynch, R Norris, HP Possingham and J Quiggin (2013) Global insights into water resources, climate change and governance. Nature Climate Change 3(4):315-321

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The threats of climate change and the trade-offs between extractions and flows are examined for the Colorado, the Murray, the Orange and the Yellow Rivers. In all four basins, and over a long period of time, outflows have greatly reduced as a direct result of increased water extractions. Although climate change will aggravate hydrological impacts on river systems, currently high levels of water extractions remain the principal contributor to reduced system flows. Changes in governance, including sharing the variability between the environment and consumers, are urgently required if the health of these rivers is to be maintained.