The Water Planetary Boundary: Interrogation and Revision

Gleeson et al, Thorsten Wagener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


The planetary boundaries framework proposes quantified guardrails to human modification of global
environmental processes that regulate the stability of the planet and has been considered in sustainability
science, governance, and corporate management. However, the planetary boundary for human freshwater
use has been critiqued as a singular measure that does not reflect all types of human interference
with the complex global water cycle and Earth System. We suggest that the water planetary boundary will
be more scientifically robust and more useful in decision-making frameworks if it is redesigned to
consider more specifically how climate and living ecosystems respond to changes in the different forms
of water on Earth: atmospheric water, frozen water, groundwater, soil moisture, and surface water. This
paper provides an ambitious scientific road map to define a new water planetary boundary consisting of
sub-boundaries that account for a variety of changes to the water cycle.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOne Earth
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

The acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.

Structured keywords

  • Water and Environmental Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'The Water Planetary Boundary: Interrogation and Revision'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this