Welcome to Inge de Graaf's research group on  Groundwater sustainability and food security at Wageningen University

contact: inge.degraaf@wur.nl. (t) @Inge_deGraaf 

Water Systems and Global Change group, Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands. 

Hello! I am Inge de Graaf. I am a hydrologist and associate professor at Wageningen University in the Water Systems and Global Change group. I use numerical modelling to better understand large-scale groundwater systems and study how much groundwater is available worldwide for people and nature, now and in the future. 

Welcome to my website. Here you will find the latest news and background on the work done in my research group on groundwater modeling, groundwater use, and sustainability.  

Research Group

Groundwater Sustainability and Food Security 

bowling event (2024)

Inge de Graaf  (group leader)

Bryan Marinelli (PhD)

Floris Teuling (PhD)

Tijmen Willard (PhD)

Sida Liu (postdoc)

Fatemeh Karandish (postdoc)

Lisanne Nauta (technical staff) 

Karun Datadien (technical staff)

Haochen Yuan (MSc student)

Miranda Xiao (MSc student)


Wahdan Syaehuddin (MSc student)

This group is co-funded by the European Research Commission Starting Grant 


Why: A better understanding of large-scale groundwater dynamics and its interactions with other parts of System Earth is the keystone to better quantification of groundwater availability and the impacts of water use now and in the future. 

How: We strive to improve our understanding of the groundwater system, through integrated hydrological modelling (coupling groundwater, surface water, and atmospheric processes) at the global-to-continental scale. 

What: A specific focus of our group lies on quantifying how much groundwater is sustainably available for crop production and to what extent this will support sufficient crop production, needed to maintain global food security, now and in the future.  We develop and use a novel modelling framework that combines groundwater, surface water, and crop growth modelling globally solving the water and energy balance at the global-to-continental scale and estimating crop growth and production using different climate and water use scenarios. We focus on the development of adaptation scenarios that aim on reducing and preventing the negative impacts of water use and increase the availability of (ground)water that can be used in a sustainable way. 

In particular, our research is directed to contribute to:

(1) A better quantification of how much groundwater is sustainably available.

(2) An improved understanding of the current and future impacts of groundwater use.

(3) An understanding to what extent crop production can be supported by sustainable use of groundwater. 

(4) The development of an advanced integrated groundwater-surface water-energy model. 

(5) The development of new and advanced model evaluation strategies.

News of the group:

Follow us at EGU2024


(HS2.1.4.) A.20 Cryoshere-groundwater connectivity in the mountain water cycle- where does meltwater go?  

van Tiel et al (I. de Graaf)


ISIMIP Groundwater sector (by invitation only)

I de Graaf, R. Reinecke 


(HS1.1.1) Navigating global challenges: development and application of a coupled global groundwater and crop growth model (invited 20min).

I de Graaf 

Thursday and Friday:

session HS2.5.1 Large-scale hydrology and groundwater

I de Graaf, R. van der Ent, D. Hannah, O. Rakovec, S. Sterling, R. Reinecke

(HS2.5.1.) A.39 Global groundwater environmental flow violations

B Marinelli, C. Mohan, T. Gleeson, F. Ludwig, I de Graaf 

Inge received the EARLY CAREER AWARD 2023 of KNAW

De Graaf is interested in the future availability of freshwater, a challenge exacerbated by the growing world population and climate change. Using an innovative model linking groundwater-surface water interactions, she has shown that groundwater abstraction has a major impact on nature and that it is particularly important to better understand the interaction between groundwater levels, agricultural irrigation and rivers. De Graaf’s research highlights the challenge involved in using sustainable methods to ensure food security on a global scale. 

Twelve young researchers from various scientific domains are presented with the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)  Early Career Award every year. The award acknowledges their exceptional achievements with a unique work of art and a sum of 15,000 euros. This is the fifth time KNAW Early Career Award has been presented. 

Inge about the KNAW Award: 

‘The prize comes with a sizeable sum of money. Still, the acknowledgement of my research matters most. It motivates me to continue.'

Read our latest  paper on 'Global Analysis of Groundwater Pumping from Increased River Capture'


Wondering on how to forecast streamflow and groundwater droughts, if we only have precipitation data? 

Read our latest paper: 

Hydrological drought forecast using precipitation data depend on catchment properties and human activities.

Sutanto, Syaehuddin, de Graaf 

Nature communications: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-024-01295-w

Based on the excellent MSc thesis of Wahdan

Bryan Marinelli receives the EGU Outstanding Poster Award

Bryan received this award for his poster presented at EGU2023 in Vienna. Congratulations! He presented the first results of his PhD reseach on rivers crossing environmentally critical discharges due to groundwater pumping. 

Inge was awarded the Outstanding Early Carreer Scientist Award of the European Geosciences Union 

Inge was awarded the Outstanding ECS award of the Hydrological division during EGU2023. She was recognized for her fundamental contribution to the field of large-scale hydrology and groundwater modeling. Have a look at her Award Lecture under 'presentations'. 

Read our latest paper on 'Quantifying Groundwater's Contribution to Regional Environmental-Flows in Diverse Hydrological Landscapes'

Read our latest review paper 'Global water resources and the role of groundwater in a resilient water future'