SBA Description Water

Statement of Need

Information on water quantity and quality and their variation is urgently needed to underpin national policies and management strategies, as well as UN conventions on climate and sustainable development, and the achievement of the Millennium Goals. Improved monitoring and forecast information, whether of national or global origin, if used intelligently, can provide large benefits in terms of reduced human suffering, improved economic productivity, and the protection of life and property.

Vision and How GEOSS will help

The vision for water cycle research and water resources management foresees observational systems, data assimilation, prediction systems and decision support capabilities being integrated into a system of systems that supports integrated water management. It will also enable closure of the water budget on regional and global scales to the point where effective management is possible across the globe.
GEOSS will provide a process for the continuous evolution of the water cycle observing system. It will do this by inventorying and evaluating existing plans and new water cycle data needs, and the ability of observing systems to meet those needs. It will develop action plans to address the needs and ensure that countries and programs take steps to meet those needs. There will be support for research and development activities related to the generation and evaluation of new data products. GEOSS will act as a conduit between the capabilities of national observing programs, international scientific programs and global conventions and policies, and will develop action plans to build capacities in developing countries.

Existing Situation and Gaps

Currently, although data archives exist for special collections, there is insufficient integration capacity for global observing systems. Critical observations for closing water and energy budgets, detecting extreme events, and monitoring water environment are missing. A comprehensive, coupled, land-atmosphere-ocean data assimilation capability is needed to optimize the use of advanced data systems.
Many developing countries lack the basic capabilities needed to access, interpret, and apply water cycle information available from satellite systems. Social and economic differences preclude the application of a single “one size fits all” solution to every situation. Many developing countries have difficulty in maintaining adequate hydro meteorological networks, and consequently there are gaps in the global database.

For more information regarding this SBA, please consult the “10-Year Implementation Plan Reference Document by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)”, available at: