A planetary boundary for green water

Wang-Erlandsson, Lan, Tobian, Arne, van der Ent, Ruud J., Fetzer, Ingo, te Wierik, Sofie, Porkka, Miina, Staal, Arie, Jaramillo, Fernando, et al. (2022). A planetary boundary for green water. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment 3 380-392. 10.1038/s43017-022-00287-8.

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Project: Respecting safe operating spaces: opportunities to meet future food demand with sustainable use of water and land resources (SOS.aquaterra, H2020 819202)


Green water — terrestrial precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture — is fundamental to Earth system dynamics and is now extensively perturbed by human pressures at continental to planetary scales. However, green water lacks explicit consideration in the existing planetary boundaries framework that demarcates a global safe operating space for humanity. In this Perspective, we propose a green water planetary boundary and estimate its current status. The green water planetary boundary can be represented by the percentage of ice-free land area on which root-zone soil moisture deviates from Holocene variability for any month of the year. Provisional estimates of departures from Holocene-like conditions, alongside evidence of widespread deterioration in Earth system functioning, indicate that the green water planetary boundary is already transgressed. Moving forward, research needs to address and account for the role of root-zone soil moisture for Earth system resilience in view of ecohydrological, hydroclimatic and sociohydrological interactions.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Water Security (WAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 16 May 2022 08:12
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 11:52
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/18007

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