Papers from the Science+ meeting held at the Royal Society and organised and edited by Professor Jim Hall, Associate Professor Jamie Hannaford and Professor Gabriele Hegerl is now available!
The impacts of droughts on people and the natural environment are increasing, due to climate change and over-exploitation of water resources. This Science+ meeting issue explored scientific understanding of changing drought risk and examined drought impacts on the environment, people and the economy. Policy-makers, practitioners and scientists explored policy options for management of droughts in the future.
Water scarcity and drought are increasingly significant environmental challenges. Recent continental scale drought events in Europe have emphasized that the severity, significance and impacts of drought pose a substantial risk to society. Furthermore, climate change projections suggest that in many parts of the world, the frequency, duration and severity of drought events is likely to increase. Despite the immediacy of this risk, communication around drought and water scarcity is difficult, and effecting timely responses is challenging. Whilst there have been significant advances in drought forecasting, monitoring and impact mitigation, many challenges remain.
This Special Issue aims to consolidate cutting-edge, international research on drought and water scarcity, highlighting critical gaps in understanding and setting urgent priorities for research and action, providing an international platform for generating an integrated, systems perspective on this complex, multidimensional and socially constructed environmental hazard.
The special issue is available now as PDF or an e-book, comprising all the articles featured.
The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology’s blog post last month highlighted the precarious hydrological situation following a very dry spring and early summer. Low groundwater levels, reservoir stocks and especially river flows were already prompting concerns around the water resources situation.
One of the questions that’s commonly asked is how the current event compares to the 1976 drought which still stands as the benchmark episode in the UK. UKCEH’s Simon Parry explores the current hydrological situation, how this compares to previous drought episodes and what might be on the horizon.
Groundwater plays an important role in water supply in the UK, both for agriculture and irrigation and for public supply. It provides around 30 per cent of public water supplies accross the UK, and sustains flows in rivers and wetlands during dry conditions. The British Geological Survey’s John Bloomfield and Andrew McKenzie explore the affect of the drought in groundwater in 2022.
July 2022 was the driest July in England since 1935. Combined with record breaking temperatures, there are fears of disruption to public water supply and poor crop yields, especially for fruit and vegetables. Cranfield University’s Tim Hess and Ian Holman explore how the current drought is affecting farmers and how it compares to previous droughts in The Conversation.
Increased demand from the heatwave has put short-term pressure on water supply, and should river flows continue to fall, there will be growing threats to water supply later in the year. In his blog, Principal Hydrologist from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Jamie Hannaford uses the Hydrological Summary, Hydrological Outlook and interactive water situation monitoring tools to look at the current water resources situation and how it may evolve in the coming months.
Droughts and water scarcity jointly pose a substantial threat to the environment, agriculture, infrastructure, society and culture and their impact and prevalence are increasing driven by the climate crisis and increased water demand.
This Science+ meeting will explore scientific understanding of changing drought risk and examine drought impacts on the environment, people and the economy. Policy-makers, practitioners and scientists will discuss policy options for management of droughts in the future.
Speakers at the event include practitioners and researchers from across the world, making this a truly global event to discuss our adaptation to the Anthropocene in regards to drought and water scarcity.
More information about the event, the programme and registration details are available on the Royal Society’s website.
A new About Drought briefing note: Drought monitoring and early warning: new developments to meet user needs has been released. The note looks at the monitoring, forecasting and early warning needs for different sectors, the key new tools and strategies for monitoring and forecasting droughts, and highlights the ways that sectors such as water companies, regulatory bodies and the agricultural sector have used these tools so far. The note concludes by presenting applications for potential future uses.
The UK, while typically regarded as a wet country, is vulnerable to drought, particularly in some areas of the south and east. There is, therefore, a need for systems that contribute to robust decision-making relating to drought risk. Such systems need to cater for a diversity of sectoral needs. Based on recent drought research, a new suite of tools and approaches have been developed, leading to some advances in early warning capability in the UK of which the briefing note seeks to highlight.
This is the third of a series of briefs to support improved decision making concerning droughts and water scarcity. Click below to read the briefing note.
A new publication has been released today which explores how our essential groundwater resources are managed during droughts, and against a backdrop of environmental change, what future priorities should be.
The work reports the outputs from a meeting over 50 hydrogeologists from water companies, regulators, consultancies and academia that was held by About Drought in July 2019 in Birmingham. The aim of the meeting was to consider current groundwater drought management practices and identity research needs.
Four key themes are discussed throughout the paper:
Joined up definitions of drought
Improved modelling of groundwater during droughts
Better information sharing
“Managing groundwater supplies subject to drought: perspectives on current status and future priorities from England (UK)” has been published in Hydrogeology Journal and is available to all now.
Climate change projections indicate that extreme events will increase in their frequency and severity in the future. An improved understanding of the drought events of the past can inform current and future management. In this talk, Lucy demonstrates how reconstructed river flows have enabled consistent, national scale characterisation of historic hydrological droughts and how access to current and historic data can support ongoing drought monitoring activities.
The work originates from a number of projects including Historic Droughts and the About Drought programme and you can view the talk below.