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Water: Improving water resource management through better understanding of the water cycle

Today, more than one billion people are without access to sufficient clean and healthy drinking water, and this number is likely to increase dramatically over the next several decades. The 2006 Water Report of the United Nations noted that this issue is not so much a problem of abundance but rather of insufficient governance. Responsible water management is essential for satisfying the growing demands for safe drinking water. In many locations, water management is hampered by a lack of sufficient observations of the terrestrial water storage, above as well as below the surface. A much improved observation system providing information on all reservoirs of the water cycle on regional to local scales is needed in order to avoid severe human and ecological disasters caused by inappropriate water management.

Unfortunately, current observation systems do not and cannot adequately monitor long-term changes in the global water cycle and their implications for climate, biodiversity, ecosystems, and human beings. The amount and quality of freshwater available for humans and for ecosystem services is affected by many variables. The Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) aims at tracking these variables by closing existing information gaps related to the water cycle, supporting the development of better forecasting models, improving data accessibility, and disseminating the results to a wider range of decision makers.

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) provides the global to local framework for coordinationa and capacity building with the goal to improve water management and water availability. Regional and local initiatives reach out to the end users, and research activities involve interdisciplinary teams addressing issues that currently hamper an improved monitoring of water resources.

Examples in the Water SBA:

  • Pilot Projects for Improved Water Discovery and Quality Assessments: Introduction. Get the flyer. Download slideshow as ppt or pdf.
  • Prototype observation system for water resources in South-East Asia: Introduction. Download the eBrochure as pdf. Download slideshow as pdf.

Last edited 02 December 2016

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