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STOrylines of futuRe extreMes

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PerfectSTORM (STOrylines of futuRe extreMes)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2022-09-01 al 2024-02-29

Future climate projections show a strengthening of the hydrological cycle with more droughts and floods expected. This means a higher likelihood of cascading drought-to-flood disasters. This year (2023) flashfloods occurred in many parts of Europe after a dry winter and a heatwave summer, including Spain, Italy, England and Turkey. Elsewhere, in Somalia, Chile and California (USA) record rainfall and flooding occurred also during or after an extreme drought. Other recent examples are the the 2012-16 California drought – 2017 Oroville spillway collapse in the US, the 2017-18 drought in East Africa followed by floods that caused hundreds of deaths, and the Millennium Drought – Brisbane flooding in Australia (2000-2010). These events resulted in large economic losses, casualties and displacements.

Studies on future risks analyse drought and floods separately. However, droughts allow ample time for impacts and adaptation, which influence hazard, exposure, and vulnerability of a subsequent flood. Drought and floods are caused by extremes of the same hydrological cycle and hence are correlated by dynamic feedback, strongly interlinked with human processes. Treating droughts and floods as independent phenomena, while ignoring their interaction with societal forces, leads to incomplete/inaccurate understanding of the processes that lead to the impacts experienced, and hence to possible underestimations of future risks.

In the PerfectSTORM (STOrylines of FutuRe ExtreMes) project, a group of researchers studies the risk of cascading hazards of flooding after drought, focusing on hydro-social feedbacks. The project aims to provide guidance on future management of drought-to-flood events to boost the positive impacts of above-average rainfall on drought effects while reducing its impacts.

A mixed-methods approach based on theory from data science, hydrological modelling, sociology, behavioural and cognitive sciences is used to develop quantitative and qualitative storylines in selected case areas in Kenya and Peru. Qualitative storylines are collected through storytelling and scenario development workshops and will be edited and analysed. Quantitative storylines are constructed through time series of hydrological and social data that will be analysed and modelled following socio-ecological systems, network theory and system dynamic modelling. These storylines will then be combined in an iterative way using innovative data visualisation.

The context-specific features of the developed storylines are also being compared and extrapolated on a global scale by exploring a range of global datasets through novel data analyses techniques. Contextual information on past drought-to-flood events is extracted through a grey literature review, which will provide insight on impacts and response strategies. This will result in the identification of global types and hotspots of drought-to-flood events. Positive pathways for future management of drought-to-flood events in different parts of the world will then be explored.
The PerfectSTORM project on had a kick-off event in November 2021. The project researchers discussed the plans for the project with several internal and external partners.

The project up to now also had several scoping visits with the aim to meet project partners (Red Cross, local universities), scope out potential case study areas, and do initial interviews and focus groups to try out the methodology. Heidi Mendoza and Anne Van Loon went on a scoping visit to Peru in November-December 2022. Ruben Weesie and Marlies Barendrecht did a scoping visit in Kenya in November 2022.

Also the first fieldworks have been done. Ruben Weesie finished fieldwork and data collection in Kenya from November 2022 to February 2023. Heidi Mendoza completed fieldwork and data collection in Peru from April to June 2023.

Besides fieldwork and data collection, also several research visits were done. Alessia Matanó and Anne Van Loon did a research visit to Switzerland for a workshop with ETH colleagues (Manuela Brunner, Lukas Gudmundsson, Marit Van Tiel) in December 2022. And Mel Rohse (external project partner) visited the team in Amsterdam in January 2023 and July 2023.

We also organized two PerfectSTORM research days in March 2023 and July 2023 and three writing weeks in December 2021, October 2022 and August 2023.

The first results of the project are coming out. Alessia Matanó published a paper titled "Caught Between Extremes: Understanding Human-Water Interactions During Drought-To-Flood Events in the Horn of Africa" in Earth's Future. Anne Van Loon published a paper titled "Streamflow droughts aggravated by human activities despite management" in Environmental Research Letters.

Heidi Mendoza submitted a literature review titled "Disentangling Adaptation: From Dependent to Transformative Adaptation", which currently is under review at Ecology and Society. Marlies Barendrecht has submitted the minor revisions of a paper exploring drought and flood interactions and dynamics with the title "Exploring Drought and Flood Interactions and Dynamics: A Global Case Review." Alessia Matanó is currently submitting a paper on "Influence of drought on flood dynamics".

We also presented the project at several conferences and did a number of outreach activities, including a web article on drought-flood interactions for the Hydrology EGU blog (Alessia Matanó) and an interview in the VU university paper Ad Valvas (Anne Van Loon).

Currently, the project is in progress, with the team analysing data, preparing more fieldwork, and modelling human-water interactions in drought-flood events in the case study regions. Several papers are planned.
The PerfectSTORM project is making significant progress beyond the state of the art by being the first to examine the socio-hydrological aspects of dry-wet transitions through a combination of global analysis and detailed case studies.

The project expects to deliver several outcomes, including the analysis of data from Peru and Kenya, which will result in four scientific papers. The team also plans to conduct workshops on adaptation to future drought-floods, which will result in two papers.

System-dynamics models for the case study sites in Kenya and Peru are also being developed, which will result in three papers that will focus on drought-flood responses and adaptation measures. The project aims to improve the understanding of global-scale drought-flood processes, which will result in two additional papers.

Finally, we are in the process to make an interactive webpage and are developing creative ways for dissemination.

Overall, the PerfectSTORM project is making significant strides in advancing the field of socio-hydrology, and the outcomes will contribute to the understanding of human-water interactions during drought-to-flood events in the case studies and beyond.
kick off group photo (Nov 2021)
Anne van Loon presenting project at kick off (Nov 2021)
Anne van Loon presenting project at Peru workshop (Nov 2022)
group photo at Peru workshop (Nov 2022)