New data opportunities for studying floods and droughts

“What global geospatial datasets are in fact available for the study of floods, droughts and their interplay with societies?”

My supervisor Giuliano Di Baldassarre asked this question during one of our first meetings. We were brainstorming hypotheses and scientific inquiries for my PhD position, focusing on hydrological extremes and GIS analysis on large scales. We started listing a few datasets together with my other supervisors, Johanna Mård and Luigia Brandimarte, but quickly realized that merely one brainstorming session would not be enough for answering this. I therefore started reviewing the data availability as part of my introductory essay, while also structuring a data collection. 18 months later, we have now published our findings in an open-access review paper on WIREs Water, and have made the data collection openly available at Zenodo.

Categories and subcategories of the 124 freely accessible global datasets included in this review

I am very excited about this review paper, not only because it is my first scientific publication, but also because I think that it will be useful to fellow scientists looking for data. The review paper aims to provide a systematic collection of datasets, covering a broad spectrum of environmental and socioeconomic variables. We highlight unprecedented opportunities associated with these global datasets, and also discuss data usability challenges. I hope that this work can guide fellow researchers in their search for geospatial data and, in the long-run, advance the understanding of how floods and droughts interact with societies in a rapidly changing world.

Full reference:

Lindersson, S, Brandimarte, L, Mård, J, Di Baldassarre, G. A review of freely accessible global datasets for the study of floods, droughts and their interactions with human societies. WIREs Water. 2020;e1424.  DOI:

Our work was also promoted on Advanced Science news! Read it here.  

By Sara Lindersson

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