<  Back to the Polytechnique Montréal portal

Consistent characterisation factors at midpoint and endpoint relevant to agricultural water scarcity arising from freshwater consumption

Masaharu Motoshita, Yuya Ono, Stephan Pfister, Anne-Marie Boulay, Markus Berger, Keisuke Nansai, Kiyotaka Tahara, Norihiro Itsubo and Atsushi Inaba

Article (2014)

Open Acess document in PolyPublie and at official publisher
Open Access to the full text of this document
Terms of Use: Creative Commons Attribution
Download (780kB)
Show abstract
Hide abstract



The shortage of agricultural water from freshwater sources is a growing concern because of the relatively large amounts needed to sustain food production for an increasing population. In this context, an impact assessment methodology is indispensable for the identification and assessment of the potential consequences of freshwater consumption in relation to agricultural water scarcity. This paper reports on the consistent development of midpoint and endpoint characterisation factors (CFs) for assessing these impacts. Methods

Midpoint characterisation factors focus specifically on shortages in food production resulting from agricultural water scarcity. These were calculated by incorporating country-specific compensation factors for physical availability of water resources and socio-economic capacity in relation to the irrigation water demand for agriculture. At the endpoint, to reflect the more complex impact pathways from food production losses to malnutrition damage from agricultural water scarcity, international food trade relationships and economic adaptation capacity were integrated in the modelling with measures of nutritional vulnerability for each country. Results and discussion

The inter-country variances of CFs at the midpoint revealed by this study were larger than those derived using previously developed methods, which did not integrate compensation processes by food stocks. At the endpoint level, both national and trade-induced damage through international trade were quantified and visualised. Distribution of malnutrition damage was also determined by production and trade balances for commodity groups in water-consuming countries, as well as dependency on import ratios for importer countries and economic adaptation capacity in each country. By incorporating the complex relationships between these factors, estimated malnutrition damage due to freshwater consumption at the country scale showed good correlation with total reported nutritional deficiency damage. Conclusions

The model allows the establishment of consistent CFs at the midpoint and endpoint for agricultural water scarcity resulting from freshwater consumption. The complex relationships between food production supply and nutrition damage can be described by considering the physical and socio-economic parameters used in this study. Developed CFs contribute to a better assessment of the potential impacts associated with freshwater consumption in global supply chains and to life cycle assessment and water footprint assessments.

Uncontrolled Keywords

Agricultural water scarcity ; Economic adaptation ; Food stock compensation ; Freshwater consumption ; International trade ; Undernourishment ; Water footprint

Subjects: 4500 Hydrology > 4500 Hydrology
Department: Department of Chemical Engineering
Research Center: CIRAIG - International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services
PolyPublie URL: https://publications.polymtl.ca/5037/
Journal Title: The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (vol. 23, no. 12)
Publisher: Springer Nature
DOI: 10.1007/s11367-014-0811-5
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-014-0811-5
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2022 14:42
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2024 14:08
Cite in APA 7: Motoshita, M., Ono, Y., Pfister, S., Boulay, A.-M., Berger, M., Nansai, K., Tahara, K., Itsubo, N., & Inaba, A. (2014). Consistent characterisation factors at midpoint and endpoint relevant to agricultural water scarcity arising from freshwater consumption. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 23(12), 2276-2287. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-014-0811-5


Total downloads

Downloads per month in the last year

Origin of downloads


Repository Staff Only

View Item View Item