Our Challenges

As the largest liquid freshwater reservoir on earth, groundwater has both a huge environmental and economic value, and will be an essential role player in adaptation to climate and global change. The predicted increase in duration and intensity of droughts, along with a rising freshwater demand due to population growth and economic development, calls for an enhanced awareness, knowledge and understanding of the functioning of groundwater systems, given their:

  • high storage capacity;
  • high residence times;
  • protected nature;
  • large resilience to climate extremes;

In addition to water, these subsurface systems can naturally or artificially store large amounts of carbon.

However, groundwater worldwide is also threatened by human activities leading to:

  1. depletion;
  2. seawater intrusion;
  3. reduction in ecological flows;
  4. land subsidence and contamination;

This jeopardizes their current and future use for domestic supply, irrigation and industry, but also endangers the life of groundwater dependent ecosystems present in aquifers, rivers and wetlands. Enhanced knowledge of the occurrence and functioning of groundwater systems and their interaction with surface waters, land use and climate will ensure their adequate employment in adaptation to climate change and minimize any negative physical and socio-economic consequences of both over- and underexploitation.

Our commission seeks to improve understanding of the relationship between groundwater and climate change, and to investigate the role of groundwater in adaptation to climate variability and change. If this is an area of work in which you are involved, do feel free to contact us.