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Rationale & Background Information

While human society has divided our planet into sovereign states and autonomous regions, there is a natural organisation scheme of the land surface, namely the hierarchically nested structure of river basins. River systems are the life blood of our planet, and they are an integral part of the global climate system. As such they feed back to many geophysical processes on local, regional and global scales. Not all of these feedback loops are sufficiently understood yet. This is why they are in the focus of programmes such as WCRP and numerous activities on integrated water resources assessment and management.

World map with river basins River basins connect people.River basins connect people beyond national boundaries.

Terrestrial monitoring of rivers is fundamental for the sustainable management of available water resources on regional or catchment scale. Predictions on local or regional scales need the examination of the phenomena in their global context, models have to be validated and calibrated with terrestrially observed data. Today, improved model approaches for analysis and simulation allow to process vast quantities of timely and highly resoluted observation data. The results of globally scaled models assist local management decisions. New decision-support tools make this information available to policy makers. Initiatives on Earth Observation like GEOSS and GMES promise to connect the producers of environmental data and data products with the users at governmental level.

GEOSS will improve the quantity and quality of environmental information by making the world’s observation systems 'interoperable'. This will make it possible to combine the broad spatial coverage that is one of the great advantages of satellites with the precision of in-situ instruments. (GEO Information Sheet 12, GEO Secretariat Geneva, 2008)

The GRDC is dedicated to contribute its share to the solution of these challenges. We believe that the outcome of the endeavours ahead will finally help to tackle the serious water management problems that many parts of the world are facing today and more will face in the future.

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