Research Topic

Drought and Water Scarcity: Addressing Current and Future Challenges

About this Research Topic

Water scarcity and drought are increasingly significant environmental challenges, as decadal droughts in Australia and the southwestern United States have shown. Recent continental scale drought events in Europe have emphasized that the severity, significance and impacts of drought pose a substantial risk to society, even in temperate regions. Furthermore, climate change projections suggest that in many parts of the world, the frequency, duration and severity of drought events is likely to increase. Despite the immediacy of this risk, communication around drought and water scarcity is difficult, and effecting timely responses is challenging. Whilst there have been significant advances in drought forecasting, monitoring and impact mitigation, many challenges remain.

This Frontiers Research Topic aims to consolidate cutting-edge, international research on drought and water scarcity, highlighting critical gaps in understanding and setting urgent priorities for research and action, providing an international platform for generating an integrated, systems perspective on this complex, multidimensional and socially constructed environmental hazard. Although this Research Topic builds on contributions from the international About Drought 2019 Conference (Pembroke College, University of Oxford, 20-21 March 2019), and research conducted in a multi-institutional national research program (UK Droughts and Water Scarcity Programme, 2014-2020 [www.aboutdrought.info]), this is an open call to the international drought research community, for papers that reflect international diversity in responding to this significant global hazard.

We are therefore particularly focused on submissions that are interdisciplinary and intersectoral. This collection will collate and synthesize novel understanding and insight from recent drought events, and profile significant advances in forecasting, monitoring and managing risk of drought and water scarcity. The collection will also address challenges that remain, including communication and engagement of stakeholders and public. We also aim to define an agenda for research an action on drought for 2020 and beyond.

Manuscripts focusing, but not limited to, on one of the following or related points are particularly welcome:
• Conceptualization and communication of dry weather, water scarcity and drought of all types;
• Current and future challenges around all aspects of drought planning and management, including forecasting, risk assessment, drought event management and planning for future drought;
• Current policy and regulatory frameworks, or consider impacts of drought on some or all of: society, the environment, and the economy;
• Approaches to drought monitoring and warning;
• Challenges around drought and water scarcity communication;
• Impact of future climate change on drought characteristics, potential impacts and mitigation and adaptation measures; and
• Perceptions and social understanding of drought, along with case-study based learning from specific drought events.


Keywords: drought, water scarcity, water management, science communication, impacts, forecasting, modelling, climate change, climate change impacts, climate resilience


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Water scarcity and drought are increasingly significant environmental challenges, as decadal droughts in Australia and the southwestern United States have shown. Recent continental scale drought events in Europe have emphasized that the severity, significance and impacts of drought pose a substantial risk to society, even in temperate regions. Furthermore, climate change projections suggest that in many parts of the world, the frequency, duration and severity of drought events is likely to increase. Despite the immediacy of this risk, communication around drought and water scarcity is difficult, and effecting timely responses is challenging. Whilst there have been significant advances in drought forecasting, monitoring and impact mitigation, many challenges remain.

This Frontiers Research Topic aims to consolidate cutting-edge, international research on drought and water scarcity, highlighting critical gaps in understanding and setting urgent priorities for research and action, providing an international platform for generating an integrated, systems perspective on this complex, multidimensional and socially constructed environmental hazard. Although this Research Topic builds on contributions from the international About Drought 2019 Conference (Pembroke College, University of Oxford, 20-21 March 2019), and research conducted in a multi-institutional national research program (UK Droughts and Water Scarcity Programme, 2014-2020 [www.aboutdrought.info]), this is an open call to the international drought research community, for papers that reflect international diversity in responding to this significant global hazard.

We are therefore particularly focused on submissions that are interdisciplinary and intersectoral. This collection will collate and synthesize novel understanding and insight from recent drought events, and profile significant advances in forecasting, monitoring and managing risk of drought and water scarcity. The collection will also address challenges that remain, including communication and engagement of stakeholders and public. We also aim to define an agenda for research an action on drought for 2020 and beyond.

Manuscripts focusing, but not limited to, on one of the following or related points are particularly welcome:
• Conceptualization and communication of dry weather, water scarcity and drought of all types;
• Current and future challenges around all aspects of drought planning and management, including forecasting, risk assessment, drought event management and planning for future drought;
• Current policy and regulatory frameworks, or consider impacts of drought on some or all of: society, the environment, and the economy;
• Approaches to drought monitoring and warning;
• Challenges around drought and water scarcity communication;
• Impact of future climate change on drought characteristics, potential impacts and mitigation and adaptation measures; and
• Perceptions and social understanding of drought, along with case-study based learning from specific drought events.


Keywords: drought, water scarcity, water management, science communication, impacts, forecasting, modelling, climate change, climate change impacts, climate resilience


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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