Water for the Food Baskets of the World

GEWEX leads the WCRP Grand Challenge on Water for the Food Baskets of the World, which focuses on assessing how fresh water availability will shift in some of the major food producing regions of the world due to climate change.


The overarching science question guiding this Grand Challenge is “how will a warming world affect available fresh water resources globally, specifically in the food basket regions, and how will it change human interactions with these resources and their value to society?” While considering water supply and demand, the question also addresses societal and environmental responses: the concentration will be on geophysical processes and the anthropogenic influences on those processes.


The main regions tackled in this Grand Challenge are the Central Valley and Great Plains of North America, the Pannonian Basin in Europe, and the wheat- and rice-producing regions of Eastern Asia, particularly China. Each of these regions have distinctly different hydrological regimes and associated issues, providing a unique opportunity to study the effects of global climate change on water-related phenomena.


Local and regional changes in the availability of fresh water due to natural climate variability at different timescales, as well as regional and worldwide environmental change, are key human challenges. The processes in the hydrological cycle involve both vertical and horizontal transports important to the (re)distribution of water on both global and regional scales.

Links to Other Activities

This Grand Challenge includes many dimensions and draws on various fields of study. Groups within GEWEX, such as the GEWEX Data and Analysis Panel (GDAP) and projects from the GEWEX Hydroclimatology Panel (GHP), will play a large role, but so will entities outside GEWEX, such as the WCRP Working Group on Coupled Modeling (WGCM) and the integrated Land Ecosystem Processes Study (iLEAPS).


The results of this Grand Challenge will be answers to the science questions listed here.