IGRAC at the World Water Week 2013


IGRAC organized a groundwater session at the WWW-2013. The session concerned groundwater information availability and reliability in the context of international cooperation. 

Groundwater Information Reliability and International Cooperation 

Convenor:        IGRAC
Co-convenor:   WMO and UNESCO

Information is the foundation for good decision making. To increase international cooperation there is need for reliable information that is accessible to all parties. Information sharing not only increases the data available for proper management, but also generates trust and can, if appropriately utilized, allow for more robust negotiations and responsible joint management. 

Establishing global water networks and related information systems increases availability of data internationally and could assist in harmonisation of national water policies. In this process, we also have to keep in mind that data and information sharing only gain its true value when data is sufficient, and sufficiently reliable. Data reliability means that data are reasonably complete and accurate, serve the intended purposes, and are not subject to any (un)intentional alteration. 

The Global Groundwater Monitoring Network

The Global Groundwater Monitoring Network (GGMN) programme was presented including postulates, the results so far and the plans for coming years. Besides functioning as a data portal the GGMN encourages groundwater specialists to take ownership of the network and work together to close the groundwater data gaps. Bringing together national and regional experts (setting up a People Network) is a first step towards international (content) cooperation. Establishing a network of groundwater experts around the world is a key task of the GGMN.

Groundwater Monitoring in the SADC Region

SADC is the inter-governmental organization for the Southern African Development Community. Recognizing the increasing dependency on groundwater in this area has resulted in regional strategic approaches to improve groundwater management practices in Southern Africa. Groundwater management is now an integral part of SADC. An overview of groundwater monitoring practices in the SADC region has been prepared and presented.

Interoperable Groundwater Data Exchange Network Emerging in North America

To improve availability of accurate data and to integrate groundwater information systems across borders, an interoperable data exchange network has been developed between the U.S. and Canada. This spatial data infrastructure incorporates a mediator to transform data in heterogeneous formats into a standard structure. The network allows to exchange groundwater data in real-time and data is made publically accessible in common formation and nomenclature through a single web portal via international standards. Further development of interoperable data exchange networks will assist in increased data sharing and availability.

Monitoring and Managing Groundwater Storage Changes Using NASA GRACE Satellite Mission

Remote sensing offers possibilities to collect additional (proxy) groundwater data, increase data reliability and simplify remote data sharing and analysis. Satellites, such as the NASA GRACE mission, provides a complementary picture of groundwater storage changes over large regions (>200,000 km2) at monthly timescales, that are otherwise difficult to construct. Combining remote sensing with in-situ monitoring allows more complete and reliable groundwater assessments.

Linking the presented complementary programmes to monitor groundwater changes would increase data reliability and advance the assessment and management of global changes in groundwater resources. Accordingly, concrete steps were suggested to combine GRACE satellite datasets with in-situ monitoring data from the GGMN. A pilot project was suggested to link the GGMN with the interoperable data network to further enhance interoperability of networks and improve international data sharing.

The seminar was rounded off with a panel discussion. Alice Aureli (UNESCO-IHP), Bruce Stewart (WMO) and Norberto Fernandez (UNEP-GEMS/Water) reflected on the GGMN and all highlighted the importance of a global groundwater monitoring network, and hence the role of the GGMN. IGRAC will continue the GGMN activities towards establishing a truly global, groundwater monitoring network.