Prediction in a socio-hydrological world


Water resource management involves public investments with long-ranging impacts that traditional prediction approaches cannot address. These are increasingly being critiqued because (1) there is an absence of feedbacks between water and society; (2) the models are created by domain experts who hand them to decision makers to implement; and (3) they fail to account for global forces on local water resources. Socio-hydrological models that explicitly account for feedbacks between water and society at multiple scales and facilitate stakeholder participation can address these concerns. However, they require a fundamental change in how we think about prediction. We suggest that, in the context of long-range predictions, the goal is not scenarios that present a snapshot of the world at some future date, but rather projection of alternative, plausible and co-evolving trajectories of the socio-hydrological system. This will both yield insights into cause–effect relationships and help stakeholders identify safe or desirable operating space.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Veena Srinivasan, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment
Matthew Sanderson, Kansas State University
Margaret Garcia, Tufts University
Megan Konar, University of Illinois
Günter Blöschl
Murugesu Sivapalan, University of Illinois
Hydrological Sciences Journal

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