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Research Water and Climate Risk

In the department of Water and Climate Risk (WCR) explicit attention is given to the interaction between the hydrological and climate systems, and how these interactions lead to risk to society, the economy, and the environment.

The focus is on water and climate extremes such as floods and droughts, to estimate impacts from these extremes on various economic sectors, and to examine which strategies can be developed to reduce impacts and risk. This requires the mapping of climate and water-related hazards, as well as the exposure of people and assets and their vulnerability, and estimating associated costs to reduce risk. Risk management and risk transfer strategies are evaluated in the context of both developed and developing countries. Model simulations, data processing, data assimilation and the integration of economic instruments, such as insurance, are key scientific strengths of the department. 

WCR focuses on three themes: (1) Climate Change and Extremes, (2) Flood, Drought and Multi Risk Assessment, and (3) Risk Management and Adaptation. Our mission is to study hydrological and climate processes, and understand how these processes lead to risks and opportunities for society, the economy, and the environment. Our interdisciplinary approach combines expertise from natural sciences with knowledge from the fields of economics, computational science, social sciences, and geography. WCR received the highest possible scientific scores from the 5-yearly national SENSE evaluation. Key research partners in the Netherlands are KNMI, PBL and Deltares. 

In our research, we use simulation models and advanced data analyses to assess risks on local to global scales, in both the global north and south. We give special attention to feedbacks between different compounding hazards and to the interaction of the physical water-climate system and society. The availability of massive datasets and quantitative methods like machine learning enable us to assess extreme events and their impacts. A unique aspect of our work is that we blend these quantitative methods with qualitative and participatory approaches to assess vulnerability and risk and to co-develop solutions with stakeholders. 

WCR is a dynamic group of more than 45 faculty members including international researchers and PhD candidates. 

The department is led by Prof. Jeroen C.J.H. Aerts.

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