TechnologyResearchers explore how floods and droughts are challenging science...

Researchers explore how floods and droughts are challenging science and society globally

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Floods, droughts, and other water-related disasters are some of the costliest natural events that occur in Canada and around the world. Even with significant global advances in science and infrastructure designed to predict and manage such extreme disasters, many communities still face major societal and economic impacts when these events occur.

In a new paper published in Nature, a team of University of Saskatchewan (USask) and international researchers presented their findings from a global investigation to determine gaps in science and policy that require reinforcement to better protect the world from droughts and floods.

“Our and drought paradigms are still based on the assumption that the past is representative of the future,” said Dr. Saman Razav, Ph.D., an associate professor in USask’s School of Environment and Sustainability, the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS), and the College of Engineering in the department of civil, geological and environmental engineering. Razavi led the Canadian contribution to the study.

“We already know that this assumption is not valid in the context of flood and drought because of two reasons,” he said. “First, as a result of , we are facing more not seen before, such as more severe storms, heat waves, or dry periods. Second, because of significant population growth, urbanization, floodplain settlements, or groundwater extraction, more people and assets are being exposed to floods or droughts.”

Forty-five case studies from around the world were used to evaluate when, where, and how current risk management strategies might fail, and where potential improvements could be made. The research team assessed floods and that occurred in the same regions over time to analyze how the occurrence of a first event may affect how a second is managed.

The study found that when two flood or drought events occurred in the same region at different points in time, the second event usually produced worse effects than the first, even with infrastructure and policy changes put in place after the first event.

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04917-5

Citation:
Researchers explore how floods and droughts are challenging science and society globally (2022, August 4)
retrieved 4 August 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-explore-droughts-science-society-globally.html

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