Articles | Volume 18, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 649–671, 2014

Special issue: Predictions under change: water, earth, and biota in the anthropocene...

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 649–671, 2014

Review article 19 Feb 2014

Review article | 19 Feb 2014

Advancing catchment hydrology to deal with predictions under change

U. Ehret1, H. V. Gupta2, M. Sivapalan3, S. V. Weijs4, S. J. Schymanski5, G. Blöschl6, A. N. Gelfan7, C. Harman8, A. Kleidon9, T. A. Bogaard10, D. Wang11, T. Wagener12, U. Scherer1, E. Zehe1, M. F. P. Bierkens13, G. Di Baldassarre14, J. Parajka6, L. P. H. van Beek13, A. van Griensven15, M. C. Westhoff1, and H. C. Winsemius16 U. Ehret et al.
  • 1Institute of Water Resources and River Basin Management, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology – KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
  • 3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
  • 4School of Architecture Civil and Environmental Engineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne – EPFL Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 5ETH Zürich, Inst Terr Ecosyst, Soil & Terr Environm Phys STEP, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 6Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
  • 7Water Problem Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  • 8Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
  • 9Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • 10Department of Water Management, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 11Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA
  • 12Department of Civil Engineering, Queen's School of Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 13Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 14Department of Hydroinformatics and Knowledge Management, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 15Department of Water Science and Engineering, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 16Deltares, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Throughout its historical development, hydrology as an earth science, but especially as a problem-centred engineering discipline has largely relied (quite successfully) on the assumption of stationarity. This includes assuming time invariance of boundary conditions such as climate, system configurations such as land use, topography and morphology, and dynamics such as flow regimes and flood recurrence at different spatio-temporal aggregation scales. The justification for this assumption was often that when compared with the temporal, spatial, or topical extent of the questions posed to hydrology, such conditions could indeed be considered stationary, and therefore the neglect of certain long-term non-stationarities or feedback effects (even if they were known) would not introduce a large error.