Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

Scheduled special issues

The following special issues are scheduled for publication in HESS:

Coupled terrestrial-aquatic approaches to watershed-scale water resource sustainability
01 Feb 2017–01 Aug 2017 | Guest editors: X. Zhang, R. Srinivasan, Z. Shen, A. van Griensven, T. Zhu, F. Hao, and S. Uhlenbrook | Information


Freshwater is a rare resource that is vital for both environmental integrity and socio-economic viability; the intensification of agriculture, increasing energy needs, and rapid global urbanization, accompanying swift population growth, are also dramatically transforming the cycle of water. Practices associated with water management vary widely across the globe, but most fulfill human needs such as food and energy production, while having an often negative impact on the natural ecosystems, such as groundwater depletion, soil salinization, desertification, water quality degradation (e.g. algal bloom), and loss of recreational value and biodiversity. Accelerating anthropogenic climate change adds additional uncertainty to changes in the spatial and temporal distributions and the quantity and quality of water resources. To ensure that the water we enjoy today will still be clean and usable for the next generations, innovations and community-scale coordination in water use, assessment, and management are urgently needed.

As the fundamental unit of water management and planning, watersheds often comprise both terrestrial (e.g. grassland, forests, urban, and cropland) and aquatic ecosystems (e.g. streams, wetlands, and lakes), and water cycling is influenced by both land management (e.g. land use change and conservation) and riverine interventions (e.g. diversion and impounding). The proposed special issue (SI) particularly seeks novel contributions that couple terrestrial and aquatic processes to advance fundamental knowledge, analytic tools, assessment methods, and linkages between science and decision/policy making in watersheds with varying natural and socio-economic conditions. Given the interdisciplinary nature of water cycling and its management, the SI welcomes a broad array of topics that include, but are not limited to, climate change impacts on water cycle, surface–groundwater interactions, nutrients and carbon cycling along the land–river continuum, agricultural water management, the water–energy nexus, biofuel sustainability, and socio-economic assessment of water sustainability. Approaches combining process-based watershed models with in situ and large-scale geospatial data, as well as spanning multiple disciplines, are of particular interest.

By systematically rounding up and examining the latest advances in watershed-scale water resource studies across Earth’s critical regions facing diverse pressing water challenges, this SI is intended to provide the scientific community, water resource managers and policy makers with a repository of cutting-edge knowledge pertinent to water resource sustainability.

Research themes include but are not limited to

  1. model development to better represent coupled terrestrial–aquatic processes influencing water cycling at the watershed scale;
  2. water, nutrients, and carbon cycling in response to human interventions (e.g. anthropogenic climate change, land use/land cover change, and hydro-engineering);
  3. the food–water–energy nexus at the watershed scale; and
  4. socio-economic assessment of best water management practices.

The theme of the proposed SI is well in line with the scope of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS), which “encourages and supports fundamental and applied research that seeks to understand the interactions between water, earth, ecosystems, and humans”. Particularly, the SI is intended to attract novel interdisciplinary research, thereby contributing to HESS-encouraged “cross-fertilization across disciplinary boundaries” and enabling “a broadening of the hydrologic perspective and the advancement of hydrologic science”.

The changing water cycle of the Indo-Gangetic Plain
02 Dec 2016–30 Jun 2017 | Guest editors: A. Mijic, P. P. Mujumdar, I. Holman, I. G. Pechlivanidis, and W. Buytaert | Information


The Indo-Gangetic Plain basin of northern India and Bangladesh is not only crucial for the socio-economic development of the region, but also provides quite unique cases of large-scale groundwater-dominated systems undergoing rapid hydrological change. Since the middle of the 20th century, the Indian green revolution has transformed the Indus–Ganges system from a low-intensity agricultural system to the largest contiguous irrigated area in the world, as well as one of the world’s most densely populated regions. The water cycle of the region currently supports the livelihoods of over a billion people.

Studying the hydrological changes of rivers such as the Indus and the Ganges is complicated, not only because of the multitude and complexity of anthropogenic change, but also because of the scarcity of available data on both the natural processes and human water use. The Ganges basin in particular exhibits extreme hydrological behaviour, including but not limited to the extent of human irrigation, the size and human use of its groundwater resources, the speed of land-use change, and the magnitude and seasonality of the Indian monsoon.

This special issue aims to reflect the state of science on the water cycle of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Contributions are invited on various aspects of the study of hydrological and hydrogeological processes, subsurface–surface–climate interactions, water resources and risks, socio-hydrological interactions, and the relationship between the water cycle and human development.

Observations and modeling of land surface water and energy exchanges across scales: special issue in Honor of Eric F. Wood
10 May 2016–31 Mar 2017 | Guest editors: M. Sivapalan, M. B. Bierkens, J. P. Evans, P. Gentine, D. Lettenmaier, M. McCabe, R. Maxwell, L. Samaniego, B. Su, R. Uijlenhoet, A. I. J. M. van Dijk, and N. E. C. Verhoest | Information


Land surface hydrology represents the study of the exchanges of water and energy between the land and the atmosphere, and the movement of water within and over the land surface. These processes have immediate and significant impacts on the quality of life on earth. The focus of this HESS special issue is the cascading, through various hydrologic subsystems, of the heterogeneities (in space) and the variability (in time) that arise from the non-linear, dynamical interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere, how they manifest in hydrologic variability at a range of scales including extremes, and how they can be observed, modelled, predicted and utilised for decision-making at a wide range of time- and space scales.

The broad range of topics to be covered in this special issue will include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • the nature of the heterogeneity of the land surface and precipitation, with a focus on organization and self-similarity, and the interactive impact on the heterogeneity of soil moisture, runoff production, and evapotranspiration;
  • parameterization of the effects of sub-grid heterogeneity of landscape properties and soil moisture on grid-scale water and energy fluxes in large catchment-to-global-scale hydrologic models;
  • effects of human impacts on the nature of hydrologic variability, including the frequency and magnitude of floods and droughts, and associated coupled human-water system feedbacks;
  • approaches to multi-scale measurements of hydrologic variability, including both ground-based measurements and remote sensing, and their synthesis;
  • the nature of land surface-atmosphere interactions and feedbacks, including global teleconnections, and implications for local, regional, and global climate change impacts;
  • controls, interactions, and changes of continental and global water and energy cycles;
  • the nature of hydrological predictability as derived from land surface memory, land-atmosphere interactions and climate predictability, and how this varies with season and location;
  • flood and drought predictability, real time forecasting, and associated risk assessments.

This special issue, consisting of both invited and contributed papers, will be published in recognition of the outstanding contributions of Professor Eric Wood to hydrologic science and practice, and to water resources engineering, as well as his lifetime of service to and leadership in the hydrologic science community. In a career spanning four decades, Professor Wood has made significant contributions to the fields of hydrology and water resources management, from his early development of ideas on hydrologic scaling behaviour to more recent work on bringing together ground and satellite observations with large-scale modelling to understand and predict changes in the hydrological cycle.

Sub-seasonal to seasonal hydrological forecasting
01 Jan 2016–31 Mar 2017 | Guest Editors: F. Wetterhall, I. Pechlivanidis, M.-H. Ramos, A. Wood, Q. J. Wang, E. Zehe, and U. Ehret | Information


Supported by advances in numerical climate prediction, seasonal hydrological forecasting is steadily progressing in response to ever-increasing needs for sustainable water management to manage climate variability and adapt to societal and environmental change. Key examples of such challenges arise almost every year, such as the struggles of water managers to operate through extreme drought conditions in California, USA, and southeastern Brazil. With this motivation in mind, this special collection of papers focuses on the use of sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts for hydrological applications. It targets relevant issues on the development of seasonal forecasting systems, such as climate forecast downscaling and calibration, streamflow post-processing, scenario building, forecast verification, model development, stakeholder dissemination and communication for decision-making. The collection will be of interest for researchers, practitioners and program managers with a stake in hydrological forecasting and water resources planning. It draws on outcomes from the HEPEX Seasonal Hydrologic Forecasting Workshop hosted by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) in September, 2015, but also welcomes topical papers from elsewhere.

The papers in the special issue will cover the following topics.

  • User needs for seasonal forecasts (for example, hydropower, agriculture, navigation, insurance companies, groundwater, and health and safety-risk reduction).
  • Statistical, dynamical and hybrid systems for predicting seasonal meteorological and hydrologic variables.
  • Progress in sub-seasonal to seasonal predictions.
  • Pre-processing, post-processing and calibration methods to enhance seasonal forecasting skill (including the use of techniques for data assimilation, initialisation and hindcasts).
  • Predictive sensitivity analyses on monthly to seasonal timescales.
  • Ensemble forecast verification.
  • Sub-seasonal to seasonal prediction capabilities for the management of water availability and water quality.
  • Climate and water services providing and using sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts.
  • Communicating seasonal meteorological and hydrological forecasts in water management and risk-based decision-making and impact-based forecasts.

Panta Rhei: opinions and progress towards hydrology for a changing world
01 Oct 2015–01 Feb 2017 | Guest Editors: H. McMillan, J. Liu, D. Juizo, A. Van Loon, T. Krueger, A. Mejia, and H. Kreibich | Information


The hydrological cycle, from catchments to global scales, has for thousands of years been intimately linked with human activity, in forms including irrigation, water storage, domestic water use and flood defence. Today, people control or impact on hydrological systems in a multitude of ways. We modify land use and climate, change flow pathways and sources of nutrients and sediments, and disrupt natural feedbacks between water and ecosystems. Rural and urban areas use and transport water in different ways and at different scales, and our trade has an embedded water footprint. In many regions, there are severe challenges associated with societal interactions with water, including water scarcity, pollution and flooding. Societies must make decisions on water governance, ownership and management, despite large uncertainties in the coupled hydrological–societal system.

In response to the clear imperative to include human impact as integral to hydrological research, the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) launched Panta Rhei, the scientific decade 2013-2022 with the central theme "Change in Hydrology and Society" (http://www.iahs.info/pantarhei). The research agenda aims to address understanding, prediction and management of hydrological systems under environmental change and human impact. This special issue reports on progress by the Panta Rhei working groups towards many of the questions described above, during the first Panta Rhei biennium 2013-15. It also contains opinion papers, as we explore and reflect on the most pressing issues in research into hydrology and change. In particular, many articles will aim to quantify progress against the six driving science questions set out at the beginning of the Panta Rhei initiative:

  1. What are the key gaps in our understanding of hydrological change?
  2. How do changes in hydrological systems interact with, and feedback to, natural and social systems driven by hydrological processes?
  3. What are the boundaries of coupled hydrological and societal systems?
  4. How can we use improved knowledge of coupled hydrological–social systems to improve model predictions, including estimation of predictive uncertainty and predictability?
  5. How can we advance our monitoring and data analysis capabilities to predict and manage hydrological change?
  6. How can we support societies to adapt to changing conditions by considering the uncertainties and feedbacks between natural and human-induced hydrological changes?

The World Meteorological Organization Solid Precipitation InterComparison Experiment (WMO-SPICE) and its applications (AMT/TC/ESSD/HESS Inter-Journal SI)
11 Aug 2014–01 Jul 2017 | Guest editors: M. E. Earle, S. Morin, R. M. Rasmussen, M. A. Wolff, and D. Yang | Information


Solid precipitation is one of the more complex atmospheric variables to be observed and measured by automatic sensors and systems. Since the WMO Solid Precipitation Measurement Inter-comparison of 1989-1993 (WMO CIMO IOM Report No. 67, WMO/TD-No. 872, 1998), significant advancements have been made in developing automatic instruments for measuring solid precipitation and snow on the ground. New non-catchment type techniques are increasingly used operationally for measuring solid precipitation, e.g. light scattering, microwave backscatter, mass and heat transfer. In parallel, the traditional techniques, tipping bucket and weighing type gauges, have new features (heating, temperature compensation, software corrections), which further diversify the range of data obtain with such instruments. New and emerging applications (e.g., climate change, nowcasting, water supply budgets, avalanche forecast and warnings, satellite ground validation, etc.) require precipitation data of increased accuracy and increased temporal and spatial resolution. A large variety of automatic instruments are being used for measuring solid precipitation, worldwide, including within the same country. This variety exceeds by far the existing range of manual standard precipitation gauges (Goodison et al., 1998).

The Solid Precipitation Intercomparison Experiment (WMO SPICE) commenced in 2011, being endorsed at the Sixteenth Congress of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). SPICE is organized by the Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO) of WMO. Building on the results and recommendations of previous studies and intercomparisons, the mission of SPICE is to investigate and report the measurement and reporting of:

a) Precipitation amount, over various time periods (minutes, hours, days, season), as a function of the precipitation phase, with a focus on solid precipitation;

b) Snow on the ground (snow depth); as snow depth measurements are closely tied to snowfall measurements, the intercomparison will investigate the linkages between them.

The SPICE experiments are organized as simultaneous field tests in a range of climate conditions, over several winter seasons, in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, which have started in December 2012, and continuing until the end of the winter season 2015.

The Inter-Journal WMO SPICE Special Issue invites submissions directly reporting on results obtained within the WMO SPICE project and beyond, including studies relevant to WMO SPICE objectives but carried out independently, and studies focusing on application of WMO SPICE outcomes, such as cold region climate change, snow hydrology, remote sensing of snow cover and snowfall, and land surface modeling over the cold/high latitude regions.

Floods and their changes in historical times - A European perspective 29 Oct 2013–30 Jun 2017 | Guest editors: A. Kiss, R. Brázdil, and G. Blöschl | Information


The recent flood in early June 2013 resulted in numerous casualties, mass evacuations, immense material damage and further socio-economic problems in Central Europe. This event occurred in a period of numerous other recent floods, drawing attention to the even greater, catastrophic historical floods in Europe that occurred in earlier centuries. A deeper knowledge and a better understanding of these events can provide us with extremely useful information for developing more effective flood risk management approaches. This is especially true in areas with a large density of human population. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to understand the causes of extreme flood events, the changes in their frequency in the past several hundreds of years, and to what extent the magnitudes and processes of the greatest flood events in historic times are comparable with those of present-day extremes.

Publications Copernicus