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Collaborative Workshop: Drought in the Anthropocene

From 8 to 11 October 2017, an international workshop on the interdependency between drought and society took place at the University of Freiburg.
Workshop Drought in the Anthropocene

Drought is one of the major threats to people's livelihoods as it affects all socio-economic and environmental systems. Resultant impacts are a combination of the interdependencies between the drought hazard and local vulnerability to drought. Nowadays the major challenge is the quantification of the feedbacks between drought and society: the influence of people on drought, impacts of drought on people, response of people to drought impacts; at local as well as at global scale.

The workshop was initiated by the researcher network DRIeR and realized in cooperation with the Panta Rhei 'Drought in the Anthropocene' working group of IAHS (International Association of Hydrological Sciences). 38 young scientists from Germany (University of Freiburg, Heidelberg University, University of Cologne) and abroad (UK, Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Nigeria) participated in the workshop.

The aim of the workshop was to consider drought from different perspectives and by means of different methods as well as to initiate comparative studies on the topic of drought risk management. The workshop focused on the following questions:

  • How are people enhancing/alleviating hydrological drought evens?
  • How are people responding to drought event by changing water use and management practices and infrastructure?
  • How do these feedback processes result in aggravated or alleviated drought conditions?


At the beginning of the workshop, Henny van Lanen (Wageningen University) gave a keynote lecture on the state of the art about 'Drought research in the anthropocene'. Further keynotes were held by Gemma Coxon (Bristol University) in the session 'Influence of humans on hydrological drought at the local scale', Niko Wanders (Utrecht University) on the topic 'Human influences in large-scale hydrological models' and Jürgen Vogt on 'Drought impact and vulnerability research' at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. As a result of the workshop, concrete topics for research cooperations between the participants were developed.


The workshop was organized by Dr. Veit Blauhut, Prof. Kerstin Stahl and Dr. Sylvia Kruse (Chair of Environmental Hydrological Systems and Chair of Forest and Environmental Policy, University of Freiburg) with scientific support from Dr. Anne van Loon (University of Birmingham).


Origin of photos: photos of the workshop (© V. Blauhut).