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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:

Understanding and predicting Earth system and hydrological change in cold regions
01 Jun 2017–01 Sep 2018 | Guest editors: S. Carey, C. DeBeer, J. Hanesiak, Y. Li, J. Pomeroy, B. Schaefli, M. Weiler, and H. Wheater | Information


Statement of purpose of the special issue:

Global warming and other climatic changes are causing rapid and widespread changes to the landscape, vegetation, and water cycling. Cold regions, such as the interior of western Canada, are at the forefront of this change and are highly sensitive to further warming. Dramatic changes are occurring to landscapes and hydro-ecological systems. There is therefore an urgent need to understand the nature of the changes and to develop the improved modelling tools needed to manage uncertain futures. To this end, the Changing Cold Regions Network (CCRN; www.ccrnetwork.ca) aims to understand, diagnose, and predict interactions amongst the cryospheric, ecological, hydrological, and climatic components of the changing Earth system at multiple scales with a geographic focus on western Canada, including the Saskatchewan and Mackenzie River basins.

CCRN is a Canadian-led research programme led by a consortium of eight universities and four federal agencies, due to be completed in March 2018. It is therefore timely for a special issue to bring together papers that synthesize this research and address recent advances in understanding, diagnosis, and prediction of past and future changes in cold-region Earth systems either as part of the CCRN initiative or from other studies around the world. The development and use of numerical models to diagnose past change and predict future sensitivity and response under various climate and land-cover scenarios is a particular focus. Key questions of relevance include whether cold-region hydrological processes and their interactions have changed in response to climatic drivers, what the feedbacks and thresholds leading to cold-region Earth system changes are, and/or what factors impart hydrological resilience or sensitivity to change in cold regions.

The special issue is open to all submissions within its scope and welcomes related studies from cold-region environments around the world.

Environmental changes and hazards in the Dead Sea region (NHESS/ACP/HESS/SE inter-journal SI)
26 Jun 2017–30 Jun 2018 | Guest editors: C. Siebert and E. Morin | Information


The Dead Sea region constitutes a unique environmental system on Earth. Set in an extraordinary landscape and cultural area, it is central to life in this region and of great economic and ecological importance. Today, the region is faced with rapid environmental changes and a multitude of hazardous natural phenomena. The ongoing lake level decline of the Dead Sea, the desertification process, occasional flash floods, the development of numerous sinkholes, and the existing significant seismic risk indicate that the region can by affected by important human, economic, and ecologic loss in future. Due to its outstanding characteristics, such as sharp climatic gradients, extreme water salinity, its dynamics, and the combination of both natural and anthropogenic drivers, the Dead Sea region represents a unique natural laboratory in which to study multiple disciplines such as geophysics, hydrology, and meteorology.

The environmental changes in Earth, atmosphere, and water are linked to the main geomorphic feature in the region, the Dead Sea Transform fault system. Due to this active fault zone, the region is exposed to severe earthquake hazard, which in turn, considering the exposed assets and the vulnerability of the building stock, determines a significant seismic risk in the region. Knowledge about processes and structures in the underground is also required for the study of sinkholes. Sinkholes form when groundwater, undersaturated with respect to easily soluble minerals, uses faults as conduits to percolate to subsurface salt deposits. The water dissolves and flushes the salt, leading to a collapse of the underground substrate structure. Thus, the development of sinkholes is enabled. Besides triggering sinkhole formation, groundwater recharge determines the available water resources. The Dead Sea being a terminal lake, its water level decline is controlled by changes in subsurface as well as surface water inflow and evaporation. A direct link to hydrology and atmospheric sciences is thereby established. The rapid shrinking of the water surface area is accompanied by a strong local climatic change, which induces changes in atmospheric circulation patterns. Here, the Dead Sea can be viewed as a laboratory for studying effects of climate change under much accelerated conditions compared to the rest of the world.

The objective of the multidisciplinary special issue "Environmental changes and hazards in the Dead Sea region" is to compile research and recent advances on the atmospheric, hydrological, and geophysical processes and dynamics of the Dead Sea and its surroundings, which are also of prototype relevance for other (semi)arid terminal basins of the world. Papers included in this special issue could address the processes of sinkhole genesis, groundwater recharge and movement, flash flooding, as well as seismic or severe meteorological events and could include topics such as the quantification of the water budget components. Moreover, contributions are invited that demonstrate how this knowledge contributes to aspects of risk assessment (or its main components like hazard, exposure, and vulnerability) and could assist in efficient risk mitigation and remediation strategies as well as to appropriate implementation of early warning systems in the region. Both measurement and modelling studies are welcome.

The planned special issue aims to address the unique conditions of the Dead Sea region from different disciplinary views. Given the fast environmental changes in the different spheres, the special issue will be of wide interest to readers from seismologists, geophysicists, engineers, and hydrologists to meteorologists. Interest will not be limited to researchers working in the region as similar changes are occurring in other parts of the world too, many on a much longer timescale.

The special issue is initiated by the Helmholtz Virtual Institute’s DEad SEa Research VEnue (DESERVE). The project brings together researchers working on diverse research fields related to the Dead Sea environment. The special issue will be open for all submissions within its scope.

Assessing impacts and adaptation to global change in water resource systems depending on natural storage from groundwater and/or snowpacks
15 Apr 2017–15 Oct 2017 | Guest editors: D. Pulido-Velazquez, J. I. López-Moreno, M. Pulido-Velazquez, K. Hinsby, H. J. Henriksen, J. Carrera, and M. Bernhardt | Information


Nowadays, there is a certain consensus that the planet is undergoing a cycle of climate change in which human activities are the main driving force. The assessment of the recent and future impacts of this climate change and its uncertainties is a necessary step for the design and selection of future efficient and sustainable mitigation and adaptation measures. The adaptation of water resource systems to potential impacts of climate and demand changes (global change) is one of the main challenges of our society. In order to analyze adaptation strategies (including nature-based solutions, combined with non-natural ones) we need to develop methods and tools able to assess the different hydrological, technical, economic, environmental and institutional aspects. The objective of this special issue is to compile research works about recent and future impacts of global change on water source systems depending on natural storage, including aquifers, subsurface retention and stream–aquifer interaction, as well as storages in snowpacks. We also include works about the design of adaptation strategies in these systems. We intend to create a sample of studies to show singularities related to the spatial scale (river basins and aquifers), specific environment of the location (e.g., Alpine basins, coastal areas), hydrological processes (e.g., snow processes, groundwater recharge, flow and discharge and seawater intrusion) and management particularities.

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 2016–31 Aug 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.

Sub-seasonal to seasonal hydrological forecasting
01 Jan 2016–30 Jun 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.

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.

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