Low Flows and Droughts

The International Commission for the Hydrology of the River Rhine Basin (CHR-KHR) has published the report of its workshop on «Low Flows and Droughts».

Droughts are sustained and regionally extensive occurrences of below-average natural water availability. They affect all components of the water cycle: from deficits in soil moisture through reduced groundwater recharge and groundwater levels to low streamflows or dried-up rivers. Droughts are reoccurring and worldwide phenomena, with spatial and temporal characteristics that vary significantly from one region to another, and can have wide-ranging social, environmental and economic impacts.

On 25 and 26 September 2007, scientists gathered in Würzburg (D) to discuss low flows and droughts in the Rhine River Basin – their origin and occurrence, and the influence of climate variability and change. Ideas on decision-making and public participation were also brought forward. The aims were to find possible research gaps and recommendations for further research. The most severe social consequences of droughts are found in arid or semi-arid regions where the availability of water is already low under normal conditions. Droughts should not be confused with aridity, however, which is a permanent feature of a dry climate; nor with water scarcity, which implies a long-term imbalance of available water resources and demands. Drought research and operational applications have been lagging behind the development in flood-related areas. There is both an urgent need to address emerging issues in drought research and management and to interact with the scientific and operational communities, as well as policy-makers and the larger public, to raise awareness about potential drought hazards.

The workshop was held in Würzburg, 25–26 September 2007.

The report was made by Michael van der Valk.


acrobat_icon Report Low Flows and Droughts

acrobat_icon Summary and Recommendations for Policy and Research