We develop a number of explanatory models as competing hypotheses about the way in which humans impact and respond to droughts and floods. These alternative explanations are empirically tested via case studies and through a global analysis of numerous human-water systems. The models are then used to explore  trajectories of hydrological risk for different scenarios of climatic and socio-economic changes, and assess the effects of alternative strategies of water management and disaster risk reduction.

We investigate the emergence of adaptation effect, levee paradox, water supply-demand cycle, and sequence effect by consistently exploring a set of contrasting case studies. The analysis of primary and secondary data is expected to unravel the causal mechanisms driving these different dynamics. These empirical results will also help develop and test competing hypotheses about the way in which the mutual shaping of hydrological extremes and society unfolds.

To go beyond specific test sites, we perform a global, explanatory analysis that involves numerous human-water systems. The project takes advantage of the current proliferation of worldwide inventories and spatially distributed remote sensing data. The global nature of this analysis will permit unravelling whether the dynamics resulting from the interplay are specific contingencies, or general tendencies that emerge under identifiable conditions. Thus, this global study is expected to provide key insights about what can be generalised, and what cannot be generalised