Needs and means to advance science, policy and management understanding of the freshwater system

Principal investigator: Georgia Destouni, Stockholm University

Read the KLIV Synthesis Report: Needs and means to advance science, policy and management understanding of the freshwater system – A synthesis report


The whole KLIV group has during 2013 worked on a sub-project for developing a general conceptualization framework for environmental-climate change interactions and change propagation through the whole coupled human-natural system of water on land – this work has been led by Georgia Destouni and is planned to be finalized and submitted for publication in 2014.Water on land is closely linked to human survival and prosperity, and to ecosystem status and development. Urgent needs have been recognized for improved understanding of the changes experienced and propagated by the whole land water system (McDonnell, 2010; Cvetkovic et al., 2012), and of the connections of water changes with planetary boundaries (Rockström et al., 2009) and rapidly changing human systems (Mantonari et al., 2013), including the linked food-energy-water demands of the latter (Howells et al., 2013). In this KLIV work, we have responded to these knowledge needs by synthesizing land water data from different parts of the world and revealing consistent patterns of water quantity and quality changes, which are driven by landscape-internal human-natural water interactions and are propagated by the land water system as a whole toward its boundary interactions with the atmosphere and the sea. We have further developed a conceptualization framework that identifies principal spatiotemporal connections and flow-transport pathways for this change propagation by water through the landscape. This development provides a basis for improved and further developed understanding of water on land as a complex coupled human-natural system, with possible emerging change properties that are not evident from traditional separate study of only individual water components. Research along these lines for the complex life-sustaining system of land water as a whole can thereby lead to novel scientific insights that can improve both water resource and general environmental governance and management.