Research Topic

Environmental Flows in an Uncertain Future

About this Research Topic

There is a long history of methodological and science developments to inform environmental flow assessments. Traditional approaches to environmental flow assessments are based around the Natural Flow Regime Paradigm, recognizing that riverine biotas respond to, and are adapted to, the natural intra- and inter-annual variability of river flows.

While this paradigm remains fundamental to environmental flow assessments and policy, there has been significant discussion in recent literature over the challenges and limitations of implementing conventional environmental flows assessment methods in a non-stationary world. Similarly, new approaches may be needed to assess and manage risk to instream environments. These approaches will build on our current understanding of managing water resources in water-scarce regions, and consideration of extreme events such as droughts and floods. Concepts such as risk management, adaptation, tradeoffs, adaptive management, and participation will become an increasing necessity under climate change. Environmental flow assessments and implementation must be robust under changing climate, economies, and social values.

We are interested in Original Research, Review, and Perspective articles that directly address the challenges of future uncertainties and how these can be addressed within environmental flows assessment methodologies and environmental flow implementation. We welcome case studies that extrapolate internationally applicable lessons and theoretical or opinion-based pieces. We also welcome articles that provide First Nation perspectives on sustainable river management under future uncertainty. Areas to be covered in this Research Topic may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

• Environmental flows assessment methodologies that consider future changes
• Risks to river health from climate change
• Socio-ecological systems under future uncertainty
• Policy and management approaches to protect river health under future change
• Adaptation and transformation of socio-ecological systems
• Participatory approaches to tackle tradeoffs and uncertainty in environmental flows


Keywords: Environmental flows, Environmental water, Anthropocene, Uncertainty, Climate Change


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.

There is a long history of methodological and science developments to inform environmental flow assessments. Traditional approaches to environmental flow assessments are based around the Natural Flow Regime Paradigm, recognizing that riverine biotas respond to, and are adapted to, the natural intra- and inter-annual variability of river flows.

While this paradigm remains fundamental to environmental flow assessments and policy, there has been significant discussion in recent literature over the challenges and limitations of implementing conventional environmental flows assessment methods in a non-stationary world. Similarly, new approaches may be needed to assess and manage risk to instream environments. These approaches will build on our current understanding of managing water resources in water-scarce regions, and consideration of extreme events such as droughts and floods. Concepts such as risk management, adaptation, tradeoffs, adaptive management, and participation will become an increasing necessity under climate change. Environmental flow assessments and implementation must be robust under changing climate, economies, and social values.

We are interested in Original Research, Review, and Perspective articles that directly address the challenges of future uncertainties and how these can be addressed within environmental flows assessment methodologies and environmental flow implementation. We welcome case studies that extrapolate internationally applicable lessons and theoretical or opinion-based pieces. We also welcome articles that provide First Nation perspectives on sustainable river management under future uncertainty. Areas to be covered in this Research Topic may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

• Environmental flows assessment methodologies that consider future changes
• Risks to river health from climate change
• Socio-ecological systems under future uncertainty
• Policy and management approaches to protect river health under future change
• Adaptation and transformation of socio-ecological systems
• Participatory approaches to tackle tradeoffs and uncertainty in environmental flows


Keywords: Environmental flows, Environmental water, Anthropocene, Uncertainty, Climate Change


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

31 July 2021 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

31 July 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

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

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