The Birmingham delegation to the Panta Rhei Drought workshop in Utrecht

— by Clarissa & Doris —

“Panta Rhei – Everything flows” is the current scientific decade (2013-2022) of the International Association of Hydrological Science (IAHS) that focuses on the interaction between hydrology and society. One of IAHS most active working groups is “Drought in Anthropocene”. Regular meetings are initiated and there is an annual workshop in October (see website for upcoming meetings). The University of Utrecht hosted the annual workshop this year. Anne, Doris and Clarissa went to Utrecht to participate.

The meeting started with plenary sessions that covered key notes and lectures related to ‘Drought in the Anthropocene’. In addition to lectures, members were asked to participate in a discussion regarding the 2018 drought in Northern Europe. The discussion focused in particular on two main questions:  impacts of drought and responses of people. Each member could bring examples from their own countries. The slides gave enough food for thought for interesting discussions during the conference dinner and were continued by smaller breakout sessions the following day.


A lot of concepts emerged from these breakout sessions that were presented by interesting spirals of cascading events, combined spatial and temporal scales in complicated flow charts. The data-rich discussions were both overwhelming and confusing given the large range of backgrounds and varying experience in each group. For a moment, it seemed impossible to synthesise these abstract ideas to one concrete project or paper.

A puzzling summary was waiting to be made from all these thoughts during the ‘wrap up’ session of the last day. To us (Clarissa and Doris), this was a fascinating experience. It was impressive to see how ideas can grow in a couple of days. Even more important was learning from other experienced group members how these ideas are brought together to meet concrete research aims and fitting methods for our [to be written] paper. The group of committed researchers, having a range of expertise and experience, contributed to a stimulating environment in which questions and suggestions are most welcome. Time will tell how many studies will follow from these fruitful annual workshops.