GEO will advocate the value of Earth observations, engage communities and deliver data and information in support of Water Resources Management by supporting management of water resources, including the cryosphere, while fostering and maintaining water quality; in order to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation through sound science-based public policies informed by Earth observations, modelling and data integration.
Summary description of 2016 Plans
18 water activities contribute to an integrated approach of the water cycle and are organized and coordinated through the Integrated Water Cycle Observation community of practice, IGWCO. The activities can be combined into 4 groups:
- Overall coordination: Integrated Water-cycle products and services
- Scientific coordination, developments and pilot studies for monitoring the whole water cycle: Evapotranspiration, Water vapor and clouds, precipitation, runoff, soil moisture, groundwater.
- Development of dedicated products: Capacity building, Water quality, drought, great Lakes, total water prediction, water cycle integrator, E2E water indicators, EartH2Observe, GEOGLOWS.
- Development of cross-cutting products: Linking water tasks with wider societal benefit areas and the post-2015 global development framework (e.g., SDG, Water-Energy-Food nexus, biodiversity and ecosystems)
- Freshwater is vital for households, agriculture, and industry, and ever larger quantities will be needed for burgeoning human populations over the coming decades. Unfortunately, current observation systems cannot adequately monitor long-term changes and transfers in the global water system and their implications for people, the climate, and biodiversity.
- The amount of freshwater available for human consumption and for ecosystem services is affected by many variables. The Global Earth Observation System of Systems seeks to track these variables by filling in existing information gaps about water resources, integrating data sets from various monitoring systems, developing better forecasting models, and disseminating the results to a wider range of decision makers.
- A key next step for the GEOSS will be to combine water-level data from satellite-based radar altimeters with data from ground-level, in-situ monitors. This will improve the ability of water managers to map the water cycles of major rivers.
- The Group on Earth Observations is also standardizing metadata and improving the accuracy of data and predictions. It aims to establish global prediction models and then develop national-level models and finally river-basin or catchment-level models. These models will eventually become interoperable, creating a “system of systems” that will facilitate the global exchange of observation data and forecasting information.