A planetary boundary for green water

Lan Wang-Erlandsson*, Arne Tobian, Ruud J. van der Ent, Ingo Fetzer, Sofie te Wierik, Miina Porkka, Arie Staal, Peter Greve, Dieter Gerten, Patrick W. Keys, More Authors

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Green water — terrestrial precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture — is fundamental to Earth system dynamics and is now extensively perturbed by human pressures at continental to planetary scales. However, green water lacks explicit consideration in the existing planetary boundaries framework that demarcates a global safe operating space for humanity. In this Perspective, we propose a green water planetary boundary and estimate its current status. The green water planetary boundary can be represented by the percentage of ice-free land area on which root-zone soil moisture deviates from Holocene variability for any month of the year. Provisional estimates of departures from Holocene-like conditions, alongside evidence of widespread deterioration in Earth system functioning, indicate that the green water planetary boundary is already transgressed. Moving forward, research needs to address and account for the role of root-zone soil moisture for Earth system resilience in view of ecohydrological, hydroclimatic and sociohydrological interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-392
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Earth and Environment
Volume3
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.

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