GEWEX SoilWat Initiative

The GEWEX Soil and Water (SoilWat) Initiative brings together two research communities to improve the representation of soil and subsurface processes in climate models. The soil and groundwater community and the climate modeling community (the latter represented by GEWEX) are working together to identify the most pressing challenges and topics related to this effort.

Participants identified three main initiatives at the 1st GEWEX SoilWat Initiative Planning Workshop held in June 2016. A report on the workshop detailing discussions and outcomes is available here.

The first is a joint GEWEX and International Soil Modeling Consortium (ISMC) project to conduct an in-depth survey on how key soil physical processes (water and heat flow) are represented in climate and hydrological models. The second inititative is a systematic assessment of the utility of resolved soil maps and sensitivity of climate models in improving the quality and resolution of soil maps. The third involves conducting a survey of how groundwater is implemented in climate models and strategies for better incorporation of groundwater in climate models, hopefully leading to a global database of historical and current groundwater levels.

Planned activities related to the three initiatives include:

  • Establishing a survey of existing soil models
  • Surveying the pedotransfer functions that are used in global climate models
  • Carrying out a sensitivity analysis
  • Setting up a soil parameter MIP
  • Seeking or developing a modeling case study in which several soil models are run to model fluxes (of mass and energy) that are relevant for climate models
  • Establishing a global database for historical and current groundwater levels.

The GEWEX SoilWat Initiative welcomes collaboration, so if you are interested in any of these efforts, please contact the International GEWEX Project Office at or one of the organizers (Dani OrAnne Verhoef, and Matthias Cuntz) directly.