Early September at the Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product (G3P) General Assembly in Zurich, FutureWater, along with 11 other consortium partners, gathered to present scientific results, project milestones, and discuss the way forward. For context, the G3P product monitors groundwater storage changes with global coverage at a monthly resolution (2002 – present) through a cross-cutting combination of GRACE and GRACE-FO satellite data. The product is being developed for operational implementation of the Essential Climate Variable (ECV) Groundwater into the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

As part of the project, FutureWater is responsible for validating the G3P product against in-situ groundwater observations in continental Spain (at pixel level) as well as use it to calibrate a Groundwater Drought Index and integrate it into InfoSequia which is FutureWater’s in-house Drought Early Warning System.

From FutureWater, Tania Imran presented the research findings from the validation case study in Spain while Sergio Contreras shared the technical workflow for the ingestion of the G3P product in InfoSequia. Different statistical metrics were adopted to assess the correlation between the GRACE-groundwater storage anomalies and in-situ groundwater index. Cross-correlations, obtained at 0.5-degree resolution, were presented followed by a discussion on the spatial patterns observed and the potential influence of local hydro(geo)logical conditions on the results.

As the groundwater storage anomaly is derived by accounting for changes in glaciers, snow, soil moisture and surface water, other consortium partners responsible for developing these accounts also shared insights on the most optimal approach to compute water storage variations in such compartments.

Since the project is now in its concluding phase, FutureWater is condensing the research findings in a report that will highlight the performance of G3P in continental Spain and show how the product can refine drought early warning systems.

With over 1,850 km of 500kV lines, 6,200 km of 220kV lines and 15,300 km of 110kV lines, the power transmission system in Uzbekistan is facing challenges with respect to deteriorating infrastructure and unreliable power supply. To address these issues, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is assisting the Government of Uzbekistan through the “Uzbekistan Power Transmission Improvement Project” which aims to: i) improve the power transmission network capacity and reliability in the northwest region of the country, ii) reduce transmission losses, and iii) improve the operational efficiency of the power sector. This will be done through the i) construction of a new 220kV single-circuit overhead transmission line spanning over 364 km, ii) expansion, rehabilitation, and construction of 3 substations and iii) capacity building and institutional development.

Additionally, given the growing impacts of climate change in the region, FutureWater has been assigned to carry out a climate risk and adaptation assessment for 12 transmission lines and 2 substations in the country. FutureWater will make use of state-of-the-art downscaled Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) ensembles, and other relevant hazards and local information to develop this CRA. The insights from this assessment will enable ADB to justify climate financing for further enhancing the climate resilience of the grid system. Moreover, through the adoption of climate-resilient technologies and adaptation measures based on the climate risk assessment, the country will be able to cut down on their GHG emissions and ensure uninterrupted power supply in light of a changing climate. This will be complimented by deriving adaptation costs to justify the need for climate financing. In addition, FutureWater will also be reviewing the existing meteorological monitoring network and recommending additional potential monitoring sites for improved surveillance in the country.

On 25th July and 2nd August 2022, FAO Pakistan conducted a Water Accounting Methodology Sharing workshop in Lahore (Punjab) and Karachi (Sindh), respectively. Peter Droogers (Senior Hydrologist) and Tania Imran (Consultant) from FutureWater joined the workshop to deliver introductory sessions on the concept of water accounting and the potential use of remote sensing.

The workshop was conducted as part of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) project titled “Transforming the Indus Basin with Climate Resilient Agriculture and Water Management”. The project aims to shift agriculture and water management to a new paradigm in which processes are effectively adapting to climate change.

Government officials from different provincial departments as well as researchers from various universities participated in both the workshops. Peter, as a Senior Water Specialist for the project, explained the concept of water accounting through interactive exercises and highlighted how water accounting can help analyze future scenarios and inform decision-making for sustainable water resources management. He also introduced the concept of real water savings in agriculture to broaden the participants’ perspectives and encourage them to reflect on what constitutes as ‘water losses’. Similarly, Tania shared the limitations of the existing WA methodology which solely relies on ground data and introduced opportunities for remote sensing to fill these gaps. As examples of geospatial analysis tools that can be employed for this task, she introduced Google Earth Engine and EarthMap to the participants through short exercises.

As one of the objectives of Component 1 of the project is to develop an interdisciplinary team to establish a water accounting system at four different scales, FutureWater is currently involved in building this interdisciplinary team and enhancing their technical capacity.

For this, one-on-one stakeholder meetings with different government organizations, such as Pakistan Meteorological Department, On-Farm Water Management and Provincial Irrigation Departments, also took place during the visit. The aim of these stakeholder meetings was to assess their existing technical capacity, identify training needs and gain an understanding of their desired outputs.

The next step is to design a training curriculum that will enable this interdisciplinary team to conduct water accounting at different spatiotemporal scales.


Workshop participants
Presentation by Peter Droogers

Pakistan is ranked as the 8th most climate vulnerable country in the world as per the Global Climate Risk Index (2019) and in recent years has been facing the worst brunt of climate change. Irregular and intense precipitation, heatwaves, droughts, and floods have severely impacted the agriculture and water sector. Approximately, 90% of the country’s freshwater resources are utilized by the agricultural sector. However, lack of information services makes it a challenge to implement a water accounting system for improved water resources management.

The GCF funded project titled “Transforming the Indus Basin with Climate Resilient Agriculture and Water Management” aims to shift agriculture and water management to a new paradigm in which processes are effectively adapting to climate change and are able to sustain livelihoods. FAO Pakistan, as per the request of the Ministry of Climate Change, has designed the project to develop the country’s capacity to enhance the resilience of the agricultural and water sector. There are three major components:

1. Enhancing information services for climate change adaptation in the water and agriculture sectors
2. Building on-farm resilience to climate change
3. Creating an enabling environment for continued transformation

FutureWater will be actively involved in Component 1 which focuses on facilitating the development of a water accounting system and improving the availability and use of information services. Given the limited data availability in the region, FutureWater will integrate the use of remote sensing technologies within the existing Water Accounting methodology to address this gap. A capacity and needs assessment will be conducted and a series of tailor-made trainings will be designed subsequently to enable key government stakeholders to use open-source geospatial analysis tools as well as models to estimate real water savings, particularly in the context of agriculture. The trainings will help build the country’s capacity to implement water accounting at different spatiotemporal scales and cope with the worsening impacts of climate change.

The Mekong State Of the Basin Report (SOBR) is published by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) every five years, in advance of the cyclic updating of the Basin Development Strategy. The SOBR plays a key role in improving monitoring and communication of conditions in the Mekong Basin, and is MRC’s flagship knowledge and impact monitoring product. It provides information on the status and trends of water and related resources in the Mekong Basin. The 2023 SOBR is based on the MRC Indicator Framework of strategic and assessment indicators and supporting monitoring parameters, which facilitates tracking and analysis of economic, social, environmental, climate change and cooperation trends in the basin.

FutureWater was hired by MRC to perform the following tasks in support of the 2023 SOBR development:

  1. Data collection on the Extent of Salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta and the conditions of the Mekong River’s riverine, estuarine, and coastal habitats
  2. Analyses of the extents of 2010, 2015, and 2020 LMB wetlands
  3. Analyses of the extents of key fisheries habitat areas in the LMB, and
  4. Data collection for all Assessment Indicators of MRB-IF for the Upper Mekong River Basin (UMB), including reporting and extracting key messages

Implementation of tasks 1 – 3 is achieved by using state-of-the-art remote sensing tools, such as the Google Earth Engine, building on the methods developed in the preceding project.

Task 4 builds on the findings of FutureWater’s contribution to the 2018 SOBR regarding the status of the UMB in China and Myanmar, more details can be found here.

Recently, the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program introduced agriculture and water as a new cluster in its strategic framework. Recognizing the complexities of the water sector and the existing landscape of cooperation activities, the strategic framework proposes a complementary approach that uses the strengths of CAREC to further promote dialogue on water issues. A scoping study was commissioned, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), to develop a framework for the Water Pillar for further consideration by the governing bodies of CAREC. It was agreed that the initial focus of the Water Pillar should be on the five Central Asian states with consideration given to expanding to other CAREC member countries over time.

The objective of the study is to develop the scope of a Water Pillar Framework that includes a roadmap of national development interventions for each of the five Central Asian Republics that responds to the prevailing challenges and opportunities in water resources management.

The framework will be derived from three specific outputs:

  • Output 1: Projection of future availability and demand for water resources for the Central Asia region up to 2050 including implications of climate change.
  • Output 2: Identification of future water resources development and management opportunities in the form of a sector specific framework for water resources infrastructure taking into consideration sustainability issues through a comparative assessment of cost recovery mechanisms and operation and maintenance (O&M) practices.
  • Output 3: Preparation of a framework for policy and institutional strengthening that addresses common themes and issues related to national water resources legislation and the capacity and knowledge development needs of water resources agencies with an emphasis on economic aspects and sustainable financing.

For this work, FutureWater provides key inputs on the climate change and water resources aspects, including desk review, stakeholder consultations across the five regions and across all sectors, and analysis of climate change risks and identification of adaptation options that have a regional dimension and can be taken up through regional or bilateral cooperation. Following the scoping study, FutureWater supports in the identification of priority activities based on an extensive consultative process in the region, with emphasis on climate resilience. Also it supports the identification of potential water pillar development partners and financing opportunities, including steps needed to qualify for climate finance

Groundwater is one of the most important freshwater resources for mankind and for ecosystems. Assessing groundwater resources and developing sustainable water management plans based on this resource is a major field of activity for science, water authorities and consultancies worldwide. Due to its fundamental role in the Earth’s water and energy cycles, groundwater has been declared as an Essential Climate Variable (ECV) by GCOS, the Global Climate Observing System. The Copernicus Services, however, do not yet deliver data on this fundamental resource, nor is there any other data source worldwide that operationally provides information on changing groundwater resources in a consistent way, observation-based, and with global coverage. This gap will be closed by G3P, the Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product.

The G3P consortium combines key expertise from science and industry across Europe that optimally allows to (1) capitalize from the unique capability of GRACE and GRACE-FO satellite gravimetry as the only remote sensing technology to monitor subsurface mass variations and thus groundwater storage change for large areas, (2) incorporate and advance a wealth of products on storage compartments of the water cycle that are part of the Copernicus portfolio, and (3) disseminate unprecedented information on changing groundwater storage to the global and European user community, including European-scale use cases of political relevance as a demonstrator for industry potential in the water sector. In combination, the G3P development is a novel and cross-cutting extension of the Copernicus portfolio towards essential information on the changing state of water resources at the European and global scale. G3P is timely given the recent launch of GRACE-FO that opens up the chance for gravity-based time series with sufficient length to monitor climate-induced and human-induced processes over more than 20 years, and to boost European space technology on board these satellites.

In this project, FutureWater is in charge of a case which aims to prototype and calibrate a Groundwater Drought Index based on the G3P product, and to integrate it into InfoSequia, the FutureWater’s in-house Drought Early Warning System. The new InfoSequia component will be tested for inherent reliability and flexibility at the basin level in a total area of about 145 000 km2 in Southern Spain which largely relies on groundwater resources. This pilot region comprises three large basins (Segura, Guadalquivir and Guadiana) with many aquifers and groundwater bodies where very severe dynamics of overexploitation and mining have been identified and declared. Unsustainable groundwater development threats the water security in the region, but also the ecological status and preservation of unique and highly protected ecosystems in Europe (e.g., Doñana National Park, Daimiel National Park, Mar Menor coastal lagoon).

To visit the official G3P website, please click on this link: https://www.g3p.eu