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Developing Essential Water Variables (EWVs) to Support Water Cycle Research and Water Sustainability Applications
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  • Sushel Unninayar,
  • George Huffman,
  • Angelica Gutierrez,
  • Richard Lawford
Sushel Unninayar
NASA/GSFC & Morgan State University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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George Huffman
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Angelica Gutierrez
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Richard Lawford
Morgan State University
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The initial list of Essential Water Variables (EWVs) evolved from wide meta-surveys of water data needs for research and applications that were carried out in 2010 to support GEO Societal Benefit Areas (SBAs). These EWVs were formalized in the Group on Earth Observations System of Systems (GEOSS) Water Strategy Report (WSR) “From Observations to Decisions”, released in 2014. Subsequently, discussions with additional user communities have augmented the list, for example with Surface Water Extent. Besides “primary” EWVs that identify key water variables, including precipitation, soil moisture, and water quality, a set of “supplementary” EWVs is also needed to complete the information that the formal list of primary EWVs should provide, such as Digital Elevation Models. It is clear that all available observing systems, employing both remote sensing and in situ observing instruments and networks are required to address the range of space/time resolutions, accuracies, and data latencies that the end-user applications require. In fact, there are still gaps in our ability to deliver all variables as required. In some cases this is a technical challenge, such as remote sensing capabilities for some water quality variables, while in many other cases it is a matter of administrative and resource challenges. This paper summarizes EWVs as currently defined and required by key end-user research and applications sectors. As a follow up to the WSR, we highlight the relevance of EWVs to the indicator monitoring objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), various international Conventions and Frameworks, and the GEO Global Water Sustainability (GEOGloWS) priority thematic communities.