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Practices and Lessons Learned in Coping with Climatic Hazards at the River-Basin Scale: Floods and Droughts

Valentina Krysanova, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Hendrik Buiteveld, Center for Water Management
Dagmar Haase, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
Fred F Hattermann, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Kate van Niekerk, Institute of Natural Resources
Koen Roest, Alterra - Wageningen University and Research Centre
Pedro Martínez-Santos, Complutense University
Maja Schlüter, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research


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Climatic hazards such as floods and droughts have always been a primary matter of concern for human populations. Severe floods damage settlements, transport networks, and arable land. Although devastating droughts are harmful primarily for agriculture and terrestrial ecosystems, they can also lead to local water supply shortages. Despite significant achievements in science and technology and success stories in environmental management in the 20th century, people still continue to suffer the consequences of climate hazards worldwide. This paper provides an overview of existing practices for coping with floods and droughts, compares strategies in different river basins, and outlines the areas that need improvement. First, the existing protection measures and response strategies against floods and droughts are briefly described. An overview is given of expected climate change and existing coping strategies for floods and droughts in seven case study basins. Four of the basins, namely the Elbe, Guadiana, Rhine, and Tisza, are located in Europe; the Nile and the Orange are in Africa; and the Amudarya is in Central Asia. Analysis of the coping strategies shows that structural measures exist in all seven river basins, but that nonstructural measures are generally not very extensive and/or advanced. Finally, the success stories in dealing with climatic hazards and lessons learned, taken partly from the seven case study basins and partly from literature, are summarized.

Key words

Amudarya; climate change; climatic hazards; coping strategy; drought; Elbe; flood; Guadiana; Nile; Orange; Rhine; Tisza; water resources management

Copyright © 2008 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087