How to improve attribution of changes in drought and flood impacts

Heidi Kreibich*, Veit Blauhut, Jeroen C.J.H. Aerts, Laurens M. Bouwer, Henny A.J. Van Lanen, Alfonso Mejia, Marjolein Mens, Anne F. Van Loon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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For the development of sustainable, efficient risk management strategies for the hydrological extremes of droughts and floods, it is essential to understand the temporal changes of impacts, and their respective causes and interactions. In particular, little is known about changes in vulnerability and their influence on drought and flood impacts. We present a fictitious dialogue between two experts, one in droughts and the other in floods, showing that the main obstacles to scientific advancement in this area are both a lack of data and a lack of commonly accepted approaches. The drought and flood experts “discuss” available data and methods and we suggest a complementary approach. This approach consists of collecting a large number of single or multiple paired-event case studies from catchments around the world, undertaking detailed analyses of changes in impacts and drivers, and carrying out a comparative analysis. The advantages of this approach are that it allows detailed context- and location-specific assessments based on the paired-event analyses, and reveals general, transferable conclusions based on the comparative analysis of various case studies. Additionally, it is quite flexible in terms of data and can accommodate differences between floods and droughts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


The present work was developed within the framework of the Panta Rhei Research Initiative of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) supported by the Panta Rhei Working Groups “Changes in flood risk” and “Drought in the Anthropocene” (–W-Groups/ Working-Groups/Panta-Rhei/ The study contributes to the UNESCO IHP-VIII EURO FRIEND-Water program. HvL is supported by the ANYWHERE project (grant agreement: 700099), which is funded within the EU’s horizon 2020 research and innovation programme ( AVL is funded by NWO Rubicon grant “Adding the human dimension to drought” (reference number: 2004/ 08338/ALW). JCJHA is funded by NWO-VICI grant nr 453-13-006. This work was supported by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme [700099]; NWO Rubicon grant [2004/08338/ ALW]; NWO-VICI grant [453-13-006].

FundersFunder number
Panta Rhei Working Groups
Panta Rhei Working Groups ?
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
International Association of Hydrological Sciences
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme700099
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek2004/ 08338/ALW


    • consecutive hydro-hazards
    • damage
    • dynamic risk
    • hydrological extremes
    • paired catchments
    • trend attribution
    • vulnerability


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