Groundwater connections and sustainability in social‐ecological systems

Huggins, X., Gleeson, T., Castilla‐Rho, J., Holley, C., Re, V., & Famiglietti, J.S. (2023). Groundwater connections and sustainability in social‐ecological systems. Groundwater 61 (4) 463-478. 10.1111/gwat.13305.

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Groundwater resources are connected with social, economic, ecological, and Earth systems. We introduce the framing of groundwater-connected systems to better represent the nature and complexity of these connections in data collection, scientific investigations, governance and management approaches, and groundwater education. Groundwater-connected systems are social, economic, ecological, and Earth systems that interact with groundwater, such as irrigated agriculture, groundwater-dependent ecosystems, and cultural relationships to groundwater expressions such as springs and rivers. Groundwater-connected systems form social-ecological systems with complex behaviours such as feedbacks, non-linear processes, multiple stable system states, and path dependency. These complex behaviours are only visible through this integrated system framing and are not endogenous properties of physical groundwater systems. The framing is syncretic as it aims to provide a common conceptual foundation for the growing disciplines of socio-hydrogeology, eco-hydrogeology, groundwater governance, and hydro-social groundwater analysis. The framing also facilitates greater alignment between the groundwater sustainability discourse and emerging sustainability concepts and principles. Aligning with these concepts and principles presents groundwater sustainability as more than a physical state to be reached; and argues that place-based and multi-faceted goals, values, justice, knowledge systems, governance and management must continually be integrated to maintain groundwater's social, ecological, and Earth system functions. The groundwater-connected system framing can underpin a broad, methodologically pluralistic, and community-driven new wave of data collection and analysis, research, governance, management, and education. These developments, together, can invigorate efforts to foster sustainable groundwater futures in the complex systems groundwater is embedded within. This article is protected by copyright.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Integrated Biosphere Futures (IBF)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Water Security (WAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2023 08:54
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2024 03:00

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