Challenges facing society – University of Copenhagen

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Research > Strengths > Interdisciplinary strengths > Water > Challenges facing society

Challenges facing society

A challenge with multiple dimensions

As the institution in Denmark that conducts the widest ranging and most in-depth research into water, the University of Copenhagen focuses on all aspects of the large and growing water challenge facing the world. The University conducts interdisciplinary research in collaboration with a range of companies in Denmark and abroad into the full water full cycle: from precipitation to groundwater to waterflows and water in production of biomass and ecosystems, to water being purified (naturally or artificially) and recycled. Research is being done into the hydrological cycle and development of integrated hydrological models in water chemistry and geochemistry, microbiology and freshwater biology – as well as in ecology, health, water- and environmental management, economics, law and policy. Common to all of the University's water research environments is close focus on the special challenges related to population growth and increased prosperity, climate change, resources, sustainability and restoration of natural habitats.

The new knowledge makes tangible contributions to:

  • The use of data from ground-based, aircraft- and satellite-borne sensors to enhance understanding of the hydrological cycle and the management of land and water resources
  • Further development of models for the whole hydrological cycle in order to provide better predictions of the quantity and quality of water resources both now and in the future climate and with different forms of land use
  • New technologies that will alleviate flooding and saltwater intrusion in coastal areas, which will be hit threefold by climate change due to sea level rise, increased flooding from the sea and increased streamflow and groundwater levels from the hinterland
  • Flood tolerance in crops that are hit by floods at different times during the growing season
  • New technologies that improve recirculation and recycling of water – both in the open countryside and in cities and in industrial production processes
  • More "crop per drop" with a focus on new irrigation technologies, water-efficient plants, safe use of "used" water for biological production and water management
  • Technologies that reduce pollution of surface and groundwater, including the treatment of nutrients and chemicals, water purification in open landscapes (including drainage) and cleaning polluted soil
  • Technologies that optimise water consumption, improve water quality and enhance food safety
  • Understanding of how new water-saving technologies in agriculture affect microbial nutrient turnover and environmental quality
  • Understand how pathogens are transported and survive in the soil and groundwater.
  • Understand how agricultural soils can act as biodegrading filters that cleanse water of chemicals and thereby protect surface and groundwater
  • Cost-benefit analyses and valuation of new technologies and aquatic environment plans
  • Understand water legislation and the legal frameworks at national and international levels for the implementation of new initiatives and regulatory measures