6 Water Research Horizon Conference – outlook
17/18 June 2015 | Berlin – Botanical Garden/Museum
The Water Research Horizon Conference offers an open platform to catalyze the interdisciplinary ‘water community’ to intensify the dialogue between scientists, practitioners, policymakers, stakeholders and decision-makers.
It intends stimulating the exchange of knowledge and the development of new ideas for providing scientific input as well as interdisciplinary approaches to solve the most pressing water problems.
Interfaces are considered as a key feature of the water cycle mainly – this relates to the relevant processes between its compartments as well as the ecosystems incl. interactions
Hydrosphere and biosphere
The terrestrial branch of the hydrosphere is tightly linked and two-way coupled to the biosphere in many ways. Vegetation penetrates the interfaces between soil, atmosphere and aquatic bodies and strongly influences their mutual states. Land surface vegetation exposes subsurface water to the water cycle via their roots and vessels. It actively controls soil water use for sustaining life in general by optimizing energy flux partitioning between radiation, sensible and latent heat, but also regulates precipitation interception and infiltration into the soil.
Biosphere emission and capture of trace gases and particulates affect the water cycle indirectly by changing the composition and concentration of greenhouse gases and aerosols; ensuing radiation effects and cloud condensation nuclei action impact evapotranspiration via the surface energy balance and precipitation development, respectively. The biosphere strongly influences the water holding and transmission capability of soil for its own existence and influences its structure and composition on the long term by amplification of mineral weathering.
Water quality in lakes and rivers with their open surfaces to the atmosphere depends on the aquatic biosphere, which processes solutes, transforms particulate matter and influences water flow. Eco-hydrology, i.e. the interactions and feedbacks between the hydrological cycle and ecological systems, is a rapidly advancing research domain.
between natural and technical systems, the effect of infrastructures and human influences in general. In this context, two main overarching themes were set which are:
Hydrosphere and anthroposphere
The anthropogenic impacts on the hydrosphere are manifold driven by population growth, energy and food demand as well as economic activities. Water systems often consist of technical infrastructures and both manmade and natural water bodies often functioning as receiving waters. First are under pressure with increasing societal demands and corresponding transformation processes, last typically affected by strong human influences with impacts on water use, the quality of ground and surface waters as well as downstream aquatic ecosystems.
Water will probably be one of the main resources limiting food production. Globalization and trade liberalization, a growing population as well as climate change will significantly affect both water availability and demand esp. for food security. Besides a changing consumerism or production processes intelligent strategies are required for a more efficient irrigation (‘more crop per drop’) or a more resilient system as aquacultures. The latter is globally the fastest growing food sector and continues to expand alongside terrestrial crop and livestock production.
Humans affect water quality, and the other way around health risks often arise by contaminated water with nutrients or trace elements and infectious agents. However, often the effects and consequences are not yet clear – i.e. how risk is understood or can be defined and esp. evaluated which may help improving the access and protection of safe (ground) water resources.