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Groundwater & Climate Change

Groundwater is the world’s largest accessible store of freshwater. It is the primary source of drinking water for half of the world’s population and supplies over one-third  of the water used to irrigate land globally. As such, groundwater is critical not only to global freshwater security but also to global food security. Further, natural groundwater discharges sustain vital ecosystem services through the provision of baseflow to rivers, lakes and wetlands in many environments during periods of low or no rainfall. Growing demand for freshwater and increased variability in precipitation due to climate change both serve to intensify global dependence upon groundwater resources.

Despite the vital contributions of groundwater to human welfare and ecosystems, our understanding of the sustainability of current and projected groundwater demand, its impact on the earth system, and the impact of climate change on groundwater is limited.  The IAH Commission on Groundwater and Climate Change (IAH-CGCC) and UNESCO-IHP GRAPHIC Programme are working together to improve our limited understanding of the relationships among groundwater, human development, and climate change. To achieve this goal, we have the following key objectives:

  • to promote international and inter-disciplinary research among hydrogeologists, climate scientists as well as physical, social, and health scientists regarding the relationship between groundwater and climate change;
  • to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge and exchanges of experiences related to groundwater and climate change through the organisation of conferences, lectures and meetings as well as the preparation of books, journal articles and popular articles; and
  • to coordinate research activities and knowledge dissemination pertaining to groundwater and climate change with allied global initiatives.


IAH Commission Co-Chairs
Jianyao Chen, Sun-Yat Sen University, China
Bridget Scanlon, University of Texas, USA
Richard Taylor, University College London, UK

UNESCO GRAPHIC Programme Leaders
Jason Gurdak, San Francisco State University, USA
Marc Leblanc, Université d’Avignon, France
Tales Carvalho Resende, UNESCO-IHP (Paris)

4 thoughts on “Latest News

  1. hi to, i wanted to know the effect of CFCs found in ground water to human health.
    can’t those CFCs be filtered naturally in anyway as rain water is moving to the aquifers?

    • CFCs in groundwater are typically present in such low concentrations that they do not have a health impact. Trace concentrations of these anthropogenic gases are potentially useful in constraining the residence time of groundwater derived from precipitation that occurred within the last century.

  2. I’m so glad you have this website. Thank you.
    I read about sea level rise causing flooding to freshwater wetlands above sea level, but can’t remember the source. Could someone reply with any info?
    Also in the US population pressure on groundwater resources for agriculture and domestic use should dwarf the effects of climate change, have other people quantified this disparity?
    I’m looking at changes to recharge of groundwater and warmer soil temperatures evaporating small rain events may be a large factor. Are there global soil temperature records?
    NASA is due to launch a satellite in 2014 (SMAP). Are there any other efforts to launch a GRACE 2 to map soil, root zone, and groundwater moisture changes in the future?
    Thanks for any response.

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