Breakthrougs in Water Research

Falling Walls Circle Tables are lending the spotlight to world-leading scientists, science strategists and policy-makers from academia, business and politics discuss how we can apply science, research and innovation to get the world moving again.

Water is essential to life on Earth, but safe water is under threat around the world. In this Falling Walls Circle Table, the panel discusses breakthroughs in water research that could help combat our water crises. As Joan Rose explains, “we all know the saying ‘water is life’. And we say that water quality is health.”

Around the world, groundwater is being depleted as we dig wells deeper and deeper. These waters can also be contaminated, leading to health threats for present and future generations. Monitoring and modelling the flows of water above – but especially below – ground is difficult. What’s more, climate change is continually shifting the world’s hydrological cycle.

Data is transforming hydrology, as researchers collect more information, which is increasingly accessible across the globe. New techniques enable hydrologists to follow the flows of water in innovative ways, whether that’s by tracking isotopes or through the same PCR techniques used for Covid testing. Ultimately, it is crucial that water research provides detailed information, to enable policymakers to protect our supply of safe water long into the future.

Andrew Curry

Independent Journalist

An award-winning journalist with more than 15 years of experience reporting from five continents. I cover science, society, travel, history, politics, cycling and more. Has written for a wide variety of publications, from Architect and Bicycling to National Geographic, The New York Times, Rouleur, Science and Wired. A contributing editor at Archaeology.

Jeffrey McDonnell

University of Saskatchewan

Jeffrey McDonnell is Professor of Hydrology and Associate Director of the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan. His work focuses on rainfall-runoff processes and tracing the catchment water cycle. Dr. McDonnell is the recipient of the 2016 International Hydrology Prize from the International Association of Hydrological, UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Canada’s National Academy of Science), Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and Fellow of the Geological Society of America. He has served as President of the AGU Hydrology Section and is currently Visiting Chair in Water Science at the University of Birmingham and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University and Beijing Forestry University.

Joan Rose

Michigan State University

Joan B. Rose holds the Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research at Michigan State University.  She is an international expert in water microbiology, water quality and public health safety.  She has published more than 300 manuscripts.  She currently leads the Global Water Pathogens Project   www.waterpathogens.org. She is the winner of the 2016 Stockholm Water Prize and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.  She is a member of the IWA Board of Directors (2016-curent).  Dr. Rose earned her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Arizona, Tucson and  masters from the University of Wyoming.

Luis Samaniego

Helmholtz-Zentrum for Environmental Research - UFZ

Luis Samaniego is the deputy head of the Computational Hydrosystems Department at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ and group leader of the Stochastic and Land Surface group. His research focuses on the application of multiscale parameter regionalization techniques to land surface models and their application on monitoring, forecasting and prediction of hydrological extremes from regional to global scales. He is the chief developer of the mesoscale Hydrologic Model and co-developer of the German Drought Monitor. Currently, he coordinates the project ULYSSES -a global and multi-model hydrological prediction system- commissioned by the Copernicus Climate Change Service and implemented by the ECMWF. He is member of the American and the European Geophysical Unions and has served as Associated Editor of WRR since 2010.