Global Water Cycle

car in flood

Read about our Global Water Cycle research projects.

Find a Global Water Cycle expert.

The water cycle links the Earth’s lands, oceans, and atmosphere in an integrated global system. Researching the cycling of water through this system is key to understanding the science of water’s storage and movement, and how human activities, such as urbanization, deforestation or dam building, impact not only the water cycle, but also related climatic and biogeochemical cycles. 

Climate change is making the global water cycle less predictable, and reduces the stability of food, energy and urban systems. By better understanding how climate change is increasing the variability and intensity of rain events, and the associated risk of flooding or drought, more effective approaches can be designed to mitigate or adapt to its impacts.

  • optimizing the calibration of atmospheric and hydrologic models
  • estimating hydrologic extremes, and quantifying uncertainty, under various climate change scenarios
  • investigating linkages between hydroclimatology, biogeochemical cycling, and surface-water chemistry
  • understanding physical processes in oceans, lakes, and wetlands and their effects on biogeochemical processes
  • observing snow and ice hydrology through remote sensing, modelling, and in situ measurement
  • understanding the effects of climate change on aquatic food webs
  • examining the hydrodynamics of lakes and wetlands
  • assessing water-related impacts and vulnerabilities from climate change
  • identifying cost-effective mitigation and adaptive management strategies at multiple governance levels