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Upcoming Events

Cryosphere-groundwater Interactions: a Missing Link in Mountain Water Research

23/04/2023 8:30 18:00

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This MRI Synthesis Workshop will bring together the mountain water and cryosphere research communities to explore cryosphere-groundwater interactions at various spatial and temporal scales.

About the Workshop

Mountain climates are warming globally, resulting in dramatic changes in water supply in ice and snow-fed basins. Receding glaciers and diminishing snow are leading to lower dry-season/late summer flows. Advances in hydrological and glaciological understanding of our mountain water towers through observations and modelling provide critical information about the changing mountain water supply. This is important information for policymakers and water managers, to base policy and sustainable adaptation decisions on. However, a glaring gap in our hydrological understanding of mountain water supply has become clear: we oversimplify groundwater dynamics in snow and ice-fed mountain basins.

Mounting evidence shows that subsurface flow and storage of water can be an important modifier of the water supply to downstream environments at a range of scales, from local, intra-mountain range subsurface flow paths to mountain block recharge occurring tens to hundreds of kilometers downstream. Unfortunately, groundwater processes are scantly monitored in mountains, and while studies of individual mountain watersheds have revealed the importance of geology, topography and climate, we lack a systematic understanding of the controls and scales at which groundwater and cryosphere interact in the mountains. This knowledge is required to improve groundwater representation in glacio-hydrological models used to address climate change impacts and water management questions. 

In this workshop series we aim to bring together members of the mountain water research community to synthesize existing knowledge of cryosphere-surface-water-groundwater interactions and conceptual glacio-hydrological system representations.

The workshop’s key synthesis questions are: 

  1. How do we currently measure cryosphere-groundwater-surface water interactions in mountain landscapes, and what information are we missing?
  2. How do we conceptualize groundwater flow in the mountain water cycle across scales, and how do we include it in hydrological models?
  3. How do we provide mountain communities and policy-makers with relevant groundwater information stemming from hydrological studies?

Expected outcomes of the workshop are:

  1. A draft review of the current state of knowledge on cryosphere-groundwater interactions with a focus on measurements and modelling approaches and detailing challenges in connecting various scales
  2. An overview of data needs to tackle the question of cryosphere-groundwater-surface water interactions and a map with mountain basins and catchments around the world were such data is available
  3. Creating a working group to organize a cryosphere-groundwater-surface water modeling intercomparison project (MIP)
  4. Building a network of researchers that can collaborate and design potential future joint projects that address various aspects of the cryosphere-groundwater interaction and mountain water supply question.

Call for Participation

We invite participation from mountain water researchers, particularly those whose research is related to cryosphere-groundwater interactions. We are seeking participants who are keen to explore with us the current state of knowledge about how glaciers and snowpack interact with mountain groundwater, current modelling practices and identify research gaps and future research directions.

We aim to bring together researchers that work in various mountain ranges, that come from various disciplines (mountain hydrology, glaciology, hydrogeology, hydrology, socio-hydrology), that use different approaches (modelling studies, field-based studies), and that work at various scales (from small catchments to large-scale mountain regions).

The number of participants will be limited (~15-20) to facilitate discussion and engagement in the workshop and create a manageable working group. Participants will be selected based on their potential contribution to the workshop, and on promoting diversity in terms of gender, career stage (everyone from PhD candidate level is eligible to apply) and geographical location.

Costs and Funding

The workshop is free for participants to attend and will precede the European Geosciences Union General Assembly for convenience and cost savings. Lunch and snacks will be provided.

Partial travel funding of CHF 500 is available for a small number of participants based on need, with a preference for participants from the global south.

Partial accommodation funding will be offered to all participants to offset the cost of staying overnight in Vienna (for the night of 22 April 2023). This funding will depend on the above travel funding and will be approximately CHF 75-100.

Additional travel and accommodation costs will be covered by participants.

Key Dates and Deadlines

  • Synthesis Workshop (in person): Sunday, 23 April – 8:30 – 18:00
  • Online: Preparation workshop: Wednesday, 5 April 14:00 UTC
  • Working group discussion: Wednesday, 17 May 14:00 UTC

To apply for the workshop, fill out this google form. Please describe your research interests and experience (study area, scales, discipline, and model/measurement approaches), your expectations for the workshop, and a short CV.

Deadline for submissions: Tuesday, 31 January 2023.

Please indicate in the application form whether partial travel funding is requested.

Participants will be notified of their participation by mid-February 2023.

For questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Apply for the workshop

Organized By

Marit van Tiel - ETH Zürich, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW)

Caroline Aubry-Wake - Utrecht University, Department of Physical Geography 

Lauren Somers - Department of Civil and Resource Engineering, Dalhousie University


Supported By


MRI logo blue ETH


WSL  Utrecht  Dalhousie


Cover image by the Caroline Aubry-Wake.


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