A global hydrology research agenda fit for the 2030s

2019-10-10T11:34:30Z (GMT) by Robert Wilby
Global assessments show profound impacts of human activities on freshwater systems that, without action, are expected to reach crisis points in the 2030s. By then, the capacity of natural systems to meet rising demands for water, food and energy could be hampered by emerging signals of anthropogenic climate change. The hydrologic community has always been solution-orientated, but our generation faces perhaps the greatest array of water challenges in human history. Ambitious programmes of research are needed to fill critical data, knowledge and skills gaps. Priorities include filling data sparse places, predicting peak water, understanding the physical drivers of mega droughts, evaluating hyper-resolution models, managing compound hazards, and adjusting water infrastructure designs to climate change. Despite the opportunities presented by big data, we must not lose sight of the deep uncertainties affecting both our raw input data and hydrological models, nor neglect the human dimensions of water system change. Community-scale projects and international research partnerships are needed to connect new hydrological knowledge with most vulnerable communities as well as to achieve more integrated and grounded solutions. With these elements in place, we will be better equipped to meet the global hydrological challenges of the 2030s and beyond.

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