6 Final Thoughts
In his closing remarks, Dr. Nguy-Robertson noted that identifying the data opportunities that NGA offers could be helpful to ensure that scientists and other potential partners are aware of available resources. He also noted the significant workshop discussions on incorporating social sciences information into groundwater research. NGA has a partnership with the State Department as part of the World-Wide Human Geography Data Working Group that holds workshops to bring in anthropogeographers and social scientists together with different communities of practice. This may be an opportunity to engage on human aspects of groundwater research.
Planning Committee Chair, Dr. Lakshmi, highlighted a few key themes from the workshop. One point raised several times is the lack of global irrigation data. To obtain accurate water balances, irrigation information is crucial. Human factors such as industrial use (and the reporting of water use), drinking water, and decision-making also have significant roles to play, though it can be difficult to obtain data on human behavior and incorporate that information into the modeling. Understanding model parameters is key and integration of different observations (remote sensing, in situ data, modeling, and analysis) will be crucial as well. Many participants noted the importance of hydrostratigraphy for modeling, and advanced tools like sub-surface geophysics can be used to improve these processes.
Several participants noted that there may be a mismatch of scales, and groundwater recharge is often estimated with limited direct observations. Models incorporate the observations, and satellite remote sensing can greatly improve those observations. There is a lot of uncertainty, but statistical and observational tools can help reduce that uncertainty.
The quality of data and access to data continue to be an issue. If NGA can facilitate this access, it would greatly benefit scientific investigations. Water quality data are important together with data on water quantity. A common global data base (moving beyond the eight countries that contribute now) could be facilitated by multiple agencies. Access to technologies such as high performance computing could help in the era of seeking high spatial resolution.
As noted in the beginning of the workshop by Dr. Michael, solving the major water challenges of the future will likely require large in situ and remotely sensed data sets, transparency in data collection and quality, and timely access to the data. Partnerships with other institutions and agencies, particularly NGA, could facilitate access to new resources and technologies. Leveraging international collaborations can also help solve scientific and societal problems.
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