Expanding the Scope and Foundation of Sociohydrology as the Science of Coupled Human-Water Systems

Megan Konar, Margaret Garcia, Matthew R. Sanderson, David J. Yu, Murugesu Sivapalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sociohydrology was launched as the science dealing with feedbacks between coupled human and water systems. Much of the early work in sociohydrology involved studies in spatially isolated domains (e.g., river basins) dealing with phenomena that involved emergent patterns in the time domain, with a focus on formulating and testing hypotheses about how they arise. The papers collected in this Special Section “Sociohydrology: Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Coupled Human-Water Systems” illustrate that the scientific scope of sociohydrology has broadened over the last few years, with a rich diversity of phenomena studied and an expansion of the knowledge foundations and methodologies applied. These Special Section papers now incorporate methodologies and approaches from a wide range of social science disciplines, including anthropology, complex systems, economics, and sociology. The major themes tackled by these papers are understanding (i) water metabolism—the economic use of water; (ii) interactions between humans and droughts; (iii) interactions between humans and floods; and (iv) the role of human institutions, policy, and management. These collected papers provide a foundation for future research that strives to understand how to achieve water resources sustainability (society to water) and reduce the risk of hydrological hazards in society (water to society). Going forward, we suggest that the development of a common sociohydrology framework will be paramount for research development and student training. Additionally, increased engagement with the broader water management communities will enhance sociohydrology understanding and impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-887
Number of pages14
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • droughts & floods
  • institutions
  • sociohydrology
  • sustainability
  • water management
  • water metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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