Global Groundwater Modeling and Monitoring: Opportunities and Challenges

Laura E. Condon*, Stefan Kollet, Marc F.P. Bierkens, Graham E. Fogg, Reed M. Maxwell, Mary C. Hill, Harrie Jan Hendricks Fransen, Anne Verhoef, Anne F. Van Loon, Mauro Sulis, Corinna Abesser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Groundwater is by far the largest unfrozen freshwater resource on the planet. It plays a critical role as the bottom of the hydrologic cycle, redistributing water in the subsurface and supporting plants and surface water bodies. However, groundwater has historically been excluded or greatly simplified in global models. In recent years, there has been an international push to develop global scale groundwater modeling and analysis. This progress has provided some critical first steps. Still, much additional work will be needed to achieve a consistent global groundwater framework that interacts seamlessly with observational datasets and other earth system and global circulation models. Here we outline a vision for a global groundwater platform for groundwater monitoring and prediction and identify the key technological and data challenges that are currently limiting progress. Any global platform of this type must be interdisciplinary and cannot be achieved by the groundwater modeling community in isolation. Therefore, we also provide a high-level overview of the groundwater system, approaches to groundwater modeling and the current state of global groundwater representations, such that readers of all backgrounds can engage in this challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020WR029500
Number of pages27
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • global
  • groundwater
  • modeling


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