Editor's Choice Award
Anne Van Loon and Henny Van Lanen with their Editor's Choice Award

Anne Van Loon and Henny Van Lanen have received a prestigious Editor's Choice Award from international scientific journal Water Resources. Since 2011 the awards have been presented to just 1% of published articles—those judged to be extremely significant. 

Anne and Henny (Wageningen University) received the award from editor-in-chief Prof Alberto Montanari of Water Resources Research during the recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union, which was held in San Francisco in December. The awarded paper was entitled ‘Making the distinction between water scarcity and drought using an observation-modeling framework’.

The authors stated that drought and water scarcity are keywords for river basin management in water-stressed regions. They argued that drought is a natural hazard caused by large-scale climatic variability, and cannot be prevented by local water management. Water scarcity refers to the long-term unsustainable use of water resources, which water managers can influence.

Anne and Henny suggested that making the distinction between drought and water scarcity was not trivial because the two often occurred simultaneously. They also proposed an observation-modeling framework to separate natural (drought) and human (water scarcity) effects on the hydrological system. The basis of the framework is simulation of the situation that would have occurred without human influence, the 'naturalized' situation, using a hydrological model. The resulting time series of naturalized state variables and fluxes were then compared to observed time series.

As part of a second, more important and novel step, anomalies (i.e. deviations from a threshold) were determined from both time series and compared. Anne and Henny demonstrated the use of the proposed observation-modeling framework in the Upper-Guadiana catchment in Spain. Application of the framework to the period 1980–2000 showed that the impact of groundwater abstraction on the hydrological system was, on average, four times as high as the impact of drought. Water scarcity resulted in the disappearance of the winter high-flow period, even in relatively wet years, and a nonlinear response of groundwater.

The proposed observation-modeling framework will help water managers in water-stressed regions to quantify the relative impact of drought and water scarcity on a transient basis and, consequently, to make decisions regarding adaptation to drought and combating water scarcity.

Reference

Van Loon, A. F., and H. A. J. Van Lanen (2013), Making the distinction between water scarcity and drought using an observation-modeling framework, Water Resour. Res., 49, 1483–1502, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20147