Back to search

MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling

GroundedExtremes - Understanding and governing groundwater to reduce risk of hydrological extremes

Alternative title: GroundedExtremes - økt forståelse og forvaltning av grunnvann for redusert risiko for hydrologiske ekstremer

Awarded: NOK 3.4 mill.

Hydrological extremes (i.e., streamflow and groundwater extremes) are expected to occur more frequently and become more severe in the future. Improving drought and flood risk management is essential to deal with such extreme events. Groundwater drought (period of below average groundwater levels) occurs due to prolonged precipitation deficit, high evaporation, and intensive groundwater abstractions. Both society and nature are severely impacted by groundwater drought, effecting drinking water supply, agriculture, ecosystems as well as infrastructure due to land subsidence. Groundwater systems have memory, which means they buffer extremes and can be used as a water supply source during extensive dry conditions. However, groundwater as a water supply source may become less reliable under climate change. As such, the project is timely and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Water Conference 2023 that strongly focus on the right to water. The GroundedExtremes project aims to investigate key processes controlling the development of hydrological extremes and the potential for improved groundwater management as a powerful adaptation strategy to both droughts and floods. We focus on drought, but include situations of high groundwater table as groundwater can act as a buffer to both floods and drought. More specifically, we want to answer the question: ‘How do groundwater extremes develop and recover as a result of complex physical and anthropogenic processes under global change?’ We will analyse and compare groundwater dynamics and management in four case studies located in Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden, with a specific focus on Sweden. Emphasis will be on drivers of groundwater drought across the case studies, including effects of adaptation measures and climate change, taking into account the importance of wet extremes in the development and recovery of groundwater drought.

The GroundedExtremes project will increase our understanding and management of groundwater, with the aim to reduce the risk of hydrological extremes. We (UiO) will investigate groundwater processes with a focus on drought drivers, development and recovery (including the effect of wet extremes before or after the drought) and the potential for improved groundwater management as a powerful adaptation strategy to both droughts and floods, without unintended consequences to other risks and sectors. Our comparative case study analysis in four contrasting regions in Europe with different physical and societal contexts supports co-learning and creates transnational value. We (UiO) will particular work with the Swedish case study together with the Swedish partner. The project will engage closely with stakeholder organisations to understand future pathways that avoid unintended consequences and feedbacks between droughts and floods and between sectors. The GroundedExtremes project addresses the core topics and themes of the Water4All call. It focuses on Topic 1 “Resilience, adaptation and mitigation to hydroclimatic extreme events” and Topic 3 “Improved water governance in the context of hydroclimatic extreme events and international contexts”. We address important knowledge gaps in relation to drivers of groundwater drought; contribute to the development of innovative adaptation strategies to cope with floods and droughts by making optimal use of groundwater; and feed into the development of robust groundwater governance models that clarify responsibilities and avoid conflict.

Funding scheme:

MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling