ERC Starting Grant for Anne Van Loon

Anne Van Loon has received a positive decision on her ERC Starting Grant proposal. The PerfectSTORM (‘STOrylines of futuRe extreMes’) project will provide five years of funding for research on droughts and floods.

Future climate projections show a strengthening of the hydrological cycle with more droughts and floods expected. This means a higher likelihood of cascading drought-to-flood disasters such as the Millennium Drought – Brisbane flooding in Australia or the California drought – Oroville spillway collapse in the US. Current research and management treat floods and droughts as independent, which leads to large underestimations of their future risk. Droughts allow ample time for impacts and adaptation, which influence hazard, exposure, and vulnerability of a subsequent flood. There are anecdotal examples of these events, but research is needed on the underlying interactions between hydrology and society. 

In the PerfectSTORM project (‘STOrylines of futuRe extreMes’), a group of researchers will study drought-to-flood events to provide the understanding needed to prevent major disasters in the future. The approach that they will develop is based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative storylines of past and future drought-to-flood risk in case studies and extrapolation of this rich case study information to the global scale. Qualitative storylines will be collected with narrative interviews and mental simulation workshops and will be edited and analysed. Quantitative storylines will be developed from time series of hydrological and social data that will be analysed and modelled. These storylines will then be combined in an iterative way using innovative data visualisation. 

A range of global datasets will be analysed to find global types and hotspots of drought-to-flood events and a global future 3D possibility space will be developed using socio-hydrological modelling. Positive pathways for future management of drought-to-flood events in different parts of the world will then be explored. The PerfectSTORM project will provide in-depth understanding of the hydro-social feedbacks and dynamic vulnerability of cascading hazards.

This interdisciplinary project will be based at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at VU Amsterdam, in collaboration with risk experts, hydrologists, social scientists, climate scientists, and many others. 

For more information please look at the press release and list of grantees.