We all know that water is one of the most important substances required for life to exist on earth. But how well do we really understand this remarkable substance? For example when it rains do we actually know where the water has come from, and what happens to it once it has reached the ground? Why some regions experience water scarcity and yet others experience abundance? Why alternating droughts and floods seem to occur almost constantly in some places but not in others? And perhaps most importantly: how we can best harness our understanding of water to maximise our societal well being?
This blog is all about water, and more precisely, the hydrological cycle. My interests are centered on the climate extremes of floods and droughts, and so you can expect to see a fair bit of discussion on both of these topics here. I will be trying to cover some of the complex and fundamental questions of hydrology today, such as: how can we understand why climate extremes happen, and what causes the chance of such extremes to change over time? How much of what we have been seeing recently can be attributed to climate change, how much is due to natural climate fluctuations, and is it even possible to tell those two apart? Do we really have the capacity to predict droughts and floods for months, seasons or years into the future, and if so then how is this possible when we cannot even predict the weather accurately a week in advance? What can we do as a society and as individuals to minimise our vulnerability to climate extremes, while at the same time not causing excessive environmental damage?
These are complex questions, and answering them will require rational, evidence based discussions and debate. We all have our biases, and I certainly do not claim to be an exception. But I will try to be as up front about them as possible, and stick to the peer reviewed scientific literature as my primary source of evidence. And if there is anything you disagree with, why not leave a post? I look forward to reading them.