Socio-hydrology: Use-inspired water sustainability science for the Anthropocene

Publicado en Earths Future, v. 2(4)

Sivapalan, M., Konar, M., Srinivasan, V., Chhatre, A., Wutich, A., Scott, C.A., Wescoat, J.L. and Rodríguez-Iturbe, I.

Año de publicación 2014
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA
  • Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana,Illinois, USA
  • Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Royal Enclave Sriramapura, Bengaluru,Karnataka, India
  • School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • School of Geography & Development, and Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona, Tucson,Arizona, USA
  • Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge,Massachusetts, USA
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NewJersey, USA




Proyecto CRN3056


  • Water problems represent a GrandChallenge in the Anthropocene
  • Contemporary scholarship on wateris fragmented by disciplinary barriers
  • Socio-hydrology is a new scienceuseful for water sustainabilitychallenges


Water is at the core of the most difficult sustainability challenges facing humans in the modern era, involving feedbacks across multiple scales, sectors, and agents. We suggest that a transformative new discipline is necessary to address many and varied water‐related challenges in the Anthropocene. Specifically, we propose socio‐hydrology as a use‐inspired scientific discipline to focus on understanding, interpretation, and scenario development of the flows and stocks in the human‐modified water cycle across time and space scales. A key aspect of socio‐hydrology is explicit inclusion of two‐way feedbacks between human and water systems, which differentiates socio‐hydrology from other inter‐disciplinary disciplines dealing with water. We illustrate the potential of socio‐hydrology through three examples of water sustainability problems, defined as paradoxes, which can only be fully resolved within a new socio‐hydrologic framework that encompasses such two‐way coupling between human and water systems.