Highlighting the nexus between the water cycle and society

The first Future Earth Research School on “Water Resources, Land-use and Forestry”, a series of high-level courses to understand and anticipate future global environmental challenges, took place in Bologna, Italy, from 20 June to 2 July 2022. Participants discussed practical solutions and innovative approaches to understand, assess and manage growing water-related risk occurrences. 

Substantial changes in the water cycle have been observed worldwide due to the rising average global temperatures, as reported by the IPCC. Variations in precipitation and water regimens are becoming more extreme directly impacting the distribution of water resources. As extremes intensify, water-related hazards increase and so does the need for sustainable land and forestry management.  

The first course of the Future Earth Research School (FERS) on “Water Resources, Land-use and Forestry”, held in Bologna, Italy, recently ended on July 2, 2022. An interesting debate sparked among participants on reducing the impacts of water management strategies whilst making them more effective in balancing future risks. The course equipped the young professionals with new skills for assessing climate change impacts on the water cycle, land and society. Through interactive activities, they learned new methodologies to mitigate water-induced hazards and to account for climate change in technical design and policy-making for adaptation. 

Director of the course was Alberto Montanari, full professor of Hydrology and Water Resources Management for the Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Material Engineering at the University of Bologna. The faculty expertise covered various aspects of sustainable water resource management, including engineering, earth system models, hydrology, forest ecology and sustainable management. 

The class was formed by 11 participants from 8 different countries, interested in past, present and future evolutions of natural water and land processes and how they will be impacted by climate change. Several natural processes were examined following the water cycle, among which snow and ice cover change, flooding and landslides. Participants were stimulated to understand changes in hydrological regimes towards a new paradigm of forest management and agriculture. 

Coordinated by the CMCC Foundation and funded by the Emilia-Romagna Region, FERS provides high-level scientific courses that give researchers the tools to understand and anticipate future global environmental challenges. 

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