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Woods Environmental Forum: Drought and Floods in the Anthropocene - Giuliano Di Baldassarre
Please join us on May 26 for a research presentation with Giuliano Di Baldassarre, Professor of Hydrology, Department of Earth Sciences of Uppsala, University in Sweden, UNESCO-IHE's Adjunct Professor at the Department of Integrated Water Systems and Governance and Director of CNDS, Centre of Natural Disaster Science.
Economic losses and fatalities caused by hydrological extremes, i.e. droughts and floods, are dramatically increasing in many regions of the world, and there is serious concern about future risk given the potentially negative effects of global changes. Over the past decades, numerous socio-economic studies have explored human responses to floods, e.g. demographic, policy and institutional changes following the occurrence of extreme events. Meanwhile, many hydrological studies have investigated human impacts on droughts and floods, e.g. changes in frequency, magnitude and spatial distribution caused by urbanization, reservoir management, or implementation of risk reduction measures. Ongoing studies of human-water systems have provided initial insights about the complex dynamics of risk resulting from the interplay (both responses and impacts) between hydrological extremes and human societies.
Empirical research in this field has recently shown that traditional methods for quantitative risk assessment cannot capture the complex dynamics of risk emerging from the mutual interactions and continuous feedback mechanisms between hydrological and social processes. It has been also shown that while risk reduction strategies built on these traditional methods often work in the short term, they might lead to unintended consequences in the long term. Besides empirical studies, a number of socio-hydrological models have been recently proposed to conceptualize human-water interactions, explain the dynamics emerging from this interplay, and explore possible future trajectories of hydrological risk. Understanding the mutual shaping of hydrological extremes and societies can improve our ability to interpret past changes, and contribute to develop better policies and measures reducing the negative impacts of drought and flood events, while maintaining the ecological benefits of hydrological variability.