Articles | Volume 366
10 Apr 2015
 | 10 Apr 2015

Hydrological sciences and water security: An overview

G. Young, S. Demuth, A. Mishra, and C. Cudennec

Abstract. This paper provides an introduction to the concepts of water security including not only the risks to human wellbeing posed by floods and droughts, but also the threats of inadequate supply of water in both quantity and quality for food production, human health, energy and industrial production, and for the natural ecosystems on which life depends. The overall setting is one of constant change in all aspects of Earth systems. Hydrological systems (processes and regimes) are changing, resulting from varying and changing precipitation and energy inputs, changes in surface covers, mining of groundwater resources, and storage and diversions by dams and infrastructures. Changes in social, political and economic conditions include population and demographic shifts, political realignments, changes in financial systems and in trade patterns. There is an urgent need to address hydrological and social changes simultaneously and in combination rather than as separate entities, and thus the need to develop the approach of ‘socio-hydrology’. All aspects of water security, including the responses of both UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) to the concepts of socio-hydrology, are examined in detailed papers within the volume titled Hydrological Sciences and Water Security: Past, Present and Future.