Research Topic

Climate Change and Terrestrial Water Balances: Examining the Impacts of Cascading Water Hazards

About this Research Topic

Global warming amplifies extreme precipitation, increasing the risk of water hazards such as floods and drought. This intensification of precipitation impacts terrestrial ecosystems, cities, and agricultural production. To date, there has been only limited research exploring how these impacts interact with each other and propagate across space and time. Examples of cascading hazards include: (i) warming causes loss of mountain snow and ice, leading to lower flows, higher summer stream temperatures, and less reliable hydroelectricity; (ii) more intense precipitation events increase flushing of contaminants and pathogens to water bodies, impacting ecosystem function and human health; (iii) more variable precipitation can accelerate groundwater depletion through the provision of supplementary irrigation; and (iv) physically independent activities such as wildfire and next season’s rainfall are related as fire then raises the chances of landslides and flooding.

Cascading hazards result from interactions and interdependencies across multiple sectors. It is therefore vital to address these cascading impacts by examining the interactions, interdependencies, and feedback loops in hydrological systems. Recent water disasters illustrate ‘cascading water hazards’ linked to climate change. In India, rock fall and ice movement created a massive flood surge in Uttarakhand, causing severe damage to physical infrastructure, including hydropower plants. Over a two-day period, two months of rainfall fell on previously saturated soil, triggering severe flooding in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. There is a need to evaluate the overall severity of these cascading disasters and their impacts on communities and the built environment.

This Research Topic examines the impacts of cascading water hazards under climate change. Research questions that consider specific hazards and their interconnectedness, interdependencies, and feedback loops are:
1. How are cascading hazards linked to the climate change?
2. How does climate change influence water balances with cascading impacts on the hydrological systems?
3. How are cascading hazards monitored and modelled?
4. What are the approaches used in evaluating the cascades of events because of climate change?
5. How have water-related hazards changed over time in terms of magnitude and intensity?

We welcome Original Research articles, Reviews, Methods, Perspectives, and Opinion pieces broadly addressing the theme of cascading impacts of climate change on terrestrial water balances including, but not limited to:
• Establishing connections between floods (droughts) and extreme precipitation changes;
• Quantifying the impacts and uncertainties pertaining to interconnected impacts of climate change on terrestrial water balances and water hazards;
• Assessing the impacts to infrastructure of cascading water hazards due to climate change; and
• Applying integrated models to understand and characterise hazards and their feedbacks due to climate change.


Keywords: Climate change, terrestrial water balances, cascading water hazards, hydrological systems, modelling


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.

Global warming amplifies extreme precipitation, increasing the risk of water hazards such as floods and drought. This intensification of precipitation impacts terrestrial ecosystems, cities, and agricultural production. To date, there has been only limited research exploring how these impacts interact with each other and propagate across space and time. Examples of cascading hazards include: (i) warming causes loss of mountain snow and ice, leading to lower flows, higher summer stream temperatures, and less reliable hydroelectricity; (ii) more intense precipitation events increase flushing of contaminants and pathogens to water bodies, impacting ecosystem function and human health; (iii) more variable precipitation can accelerate groundwater depletion through the provision of supplementary irrigation; and (iv) physically independent activities such as wildfire and next season’s rainfall are related as fire then raises the chances of landslides and flooding.

Cascading hazards result from interactions and interdependencies across multiple sectors. It is therefore vital to address these cascading impacts by examining the interactions, interdependencies, and feedback loops in hydrological systems. Recent water disasters illustrate ‘cascading water hazards’ linked to climate change. In India, rock fall and ice movement created a massive flood surge in Uttarakhand, causing severe damage to physical infrastructure, including hydropower plants. Over a two-day period, two months of rainfall fell on previously saturated soil, triggering severe flooding in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. There is a need to evaluate the overall severity of these cascading disasters and their impacts on communities and the built environment.

This Research Topic examines the impacts of cascading water hazards under climate change. Research questions that consider specific hazards and their interconnectedness, interdependencies, and feedback loops are:
1. How are cascading hazards linked to the climate change?
2. How does climate change influence water balances with cascading impacts on the hydrological systems?
3. How are cascading hazards monitored and modelled?
4. What are the approaches used in evaluating the cascades of events because of climate change?
5. How have water-related hazards changed over time in terms of magnitude and intensity?

We welcome Original Research articles, Reviews, Methods, Perspectives, and Opinion pieces broadly addressing the theme of cascading impacts of climate change on terrestrial water balances including, but not limited to:
• Establishing connections between floods (droughts) and extreme precipitation changes;
• Quantifying the impacts and uncertainties pertaining to interconnected impacts of climate change on terrestrial water balances and water hazards;
• Assessing the impacts to infrastructure of cascading water hazards due to climate change; and
• Applying integrated models to understand and characterise hazards and their feedbacks due to climate change.


Keywords: Climate change, terrestrial water balances, cascading water hazards, hydrological systems, modelling


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

24 January 2022 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

24 January 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

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

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