Focus |


A vast store of freshwater that circulates beneath the land surface is increasingly tapped to serve the water needs of human communities. Groundwater represents the largest component of the active hydrological cycle and its movement through the subsurface affects many aspects of the Earth system. In this focus, we present a collection of research papers and opinion pieces that discuss the influence of groundwater on hydrological, environmental and geological processes.


  • Nature Geoscience | Editorial

    Groundwater flow meddles with hydrological, environmental and geological processes. As water scarcity issues mount for people living above ground, the vast stores of freshwater in the subsurface require research attention.

  • Nature Geoscience | Commentary

    Drought management is inefficient because feedbacks between drought and people are not fully understood. In this human-influenced era, we need to rethink the concept of drought to include the human role in mitigating and enhancing drought.

    • Anne F. Van Loon
    • , Tom Gleeson
    • , Julian Clark
    • , Albert I. J. M. Van Dijk
    • , Kerstin Stahl
    • , Jamie Hannaford
    • , Giuliano Di Baldassarre
    • , Adriaan J. Teuling
    • , Lena M. Tallaksen
    • , Remko Uijlenhoet
    • , David M. Hannah
    • , Justin Sheffield
    • , Mark Svoboda
    • , Boud Verbeiren
    • , Thorsten Wagener
    • , Sally Rangecroft
    • , Niko Wanders
    •  &  Henny A. J. Van Lanen
  • Nature Geoscience | News & Views

    A global picture of the age structure and flow path of groundwater is lacking. Tritium concentrations and numerical modelling shed light on both the most recently replenished and the longest stored groundwater within Earth's continents.

    • Ying Fan
  • Nature Geoscience | Letter

    Streamflow is a mixture of precipitation of various ages. Oxygen isotope data suggests that a third of global river discharge is sourced from rainfall within the past few months, which accounts for less than 0.1% of global groundwater.

    • Scott Jasechko
    • , James W. Kirchner
    • , Jeffrey M. Welker
    •  &  Jeffrey J. McDonnell
  • Nature Geoscience | Letter

    Groundwater flow redistributes heat in the Earth’s crust. Numerical simulations of groundwater flow show net cooling of groundwater basins, as well as cooling of the underlying lithosphere in areas where groundwater flows over large distances.

    • Henk Kooi

From the archives

  • Nature Geoscience | Commentary

    Multiple factors determine how much water is and will be available in the river basins of Asia. To expose hotspots and help adaptation, these factors must be assessed together at the basin level.

    • W. W. Immerzeel
    •  &  M. F. P. Bierkens
  • Nature Geoscience | News & Views

    Earthquake prediction is a long-sought goal. Changes in groundwater chemistry before earthquakes in Iceland highlight a potential hydrogeochemical precursor, but such signals must be evaluated in the context of long-term, multiparametric data sets.

    • S. E. Ingebritsen
    •  &  M. Manga