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The GEWEX-SoilWat initiative:
first planning workshop for scope and interactions

Advancing Integration of Soil and Subsurface Processes in Climate Models

Leipzig June 28-30, 2016


The Soil and Critical Zone communities have been exploring ways to broaden disciplinary participation in addressing global challenges where soil and subsurface processes (groundwater) play important roles – these include climate change, food security, land and water resources and more. GEWEX plays a prominent role in quantifying land-atmosphere interactions in various modeling platforms and appears a natural partner for fostering synergistic interactions between the soil/subsurface and the climate communities. We have made presentations at two GEWEX meetings (and to the GEWEX scientific steering group in January 2016) to promote such collaborations and discussed potential areas of mutual interests, however, exact mechanisms, topical themes and priorities, persons involved, how to organize and engage the two communities and issues remain open. The primary objectives of this planning workshop are to harness the enthusiastic expressions of interest from both communities and transform these into an effective and sustainable plan of action. We seek input from the two communities (GEWEX and Soil/Groundwater) to identify the most pressing challenges and scientific topics, how to mutually engage and cooperate, how to weave such activities into the present GEWEX structure, how to provide feedback to the soil/water communities, and how to expand and involve other interested people. In short, we hope to shape and promote cooperation that would benefit the scientific communities involved.

Objectives and outcomes

To establish a structure that develops a road map for better integrating soil research into climate research, and for interfacing research on soils, climate, and socio-economics. These objectives target six core areas (an initial list to be adjusted as the GEWEX-SoilWat initiative progresses):

  • Integrating (sub-) surface modeling in hydrological and climate models
  • Model complexity and utility (simple vs complex models)
  • Groundwater-surface-atmosphere interactions
  • Human interactions affecting soil-water processes Taikan Oki and Shmuel Assouline
  • Soil observations for hydro-climate research
  • Structures and mechanisms for informing climate and soil communities

We envision each of these core areas to be managed by a working group that will be tasked with developing strategies, time plan, identifying work group members and establishing interactions and coordination mechanisms. During the workshop, participants will identify specific strategies for the working groups regarding agenda-setting, generating commitment from researchers and research groups, research funding, and stakeholder involvement. The planning workshop would embark on creating an infrastructure for 1) informing climate research communities of relevant soil research areas and their results, and 2) communicating research needs and knowledge gaps concerning land processes in climate and weather modulation to the soil and water communities.


The workshop will have blocks of presentations (mostly invited) that highlight the strategic and/or organizational issues regarding core working groups, aspects related to inter- and transdisciplinarity of the research areas involved, or experienced in transfer of research needs and generated knowledge between researchers and parties/actors that require new knowledge. Each block of presentations will be followed by ample time for discussion.

Primed by this exchange, the workshop participants will join (on a voluntary basis) one of six brainstorming groups for each core area. We will appoint co-chairs to each of the core groups to moderate and manage the discussions. A brief explanation and discussion of the tasks of these groups will follow to ensure the core groups have a common understanding of the focus and desired output of their discussions, in view of the overall objectives of the workshop.

The results of the break-away sessions will be reported in a plenary session. In this plenary the points brought forward will be honed and finalized to create a level of coherency between the working groups. These results will be used in the final plenary session to develop a road map to set things in motion after the workshop, further develop the agenda, and broadcast our plans.

There is room for a few volunteered posters that will be displayed in the lobby area where lunch will be served.