Develop a conceptual framework that enables rigorous interdisciplinary analysis of episodes of drought


A structured method of analysing past droughts across the numerous sectors is challenging, using the conceptual framework should mean that all sectors use terms consistently and identify drivers, pressures and impacts of historic drought consistently. Currently there are no conceptual models of drought that describe interactions between hydrometerological and socio-economic drivers and environmental and societal impacts of droughts.


The Conceptual Framework enables a joint hydro-meteorological-social analysis of drought structures, providing a common terminology for the cross-disciplinary description and analysis of drought systems. Quantitative and qualitative primary empirical data about key UK drought events flesh out the meaning of the key concepts of the Framework, such as ‘drivers’ of drought, ‘responses’ to them and ‘impacts’ of droughts. It seeks to integrate in its analysis human actors’ perceptions and understandings of specific drought events with natural science accounts of drought. The former are captured through oral histories, analysis of newspaper reports and UK Parliamentary debates of drought events; the latter document how the weather, as well as the state of surface- and groundwater bodies contribute to, and change, during drought.


A conceptual framework for the joint hydro-meteorological-social analysis of drought. The conceptual framework provides an innovative take on existing ‘drivers’, ‘pressures’, ‘states’, ‘responses’ and ‘impacts’ (DPSIR) models that address the problem of how to describe, analyse and manage environmental governance challenges. More specifically, the framework developed in Historic Droughts defines ‘impacts’, ‘responses’ and ‘states’ with reference to linked natural-social worlds. This is different from some DPSIR models which define e.g. ‘responses’ mainly with reference to the social world (e.g. as human management responses to environmental governance challenges) and ‘states’ mainly with reference to the natural world (e.g. river flows) - for example, Rekolainen et al. 2003. Moreover, the Historic Droughts conceptual framework builds on and further develops existing DPSIR models by capturing that key elements, such as ‘drivers’, ‘responses’ and ‘impacts’ of drought act on different temporal and spatial scales. This helps to understand how environmental governance challenges, such as drought, evolve over time and how elements of drought systems may vary or remain constant at various geographical (e.g. the catchment), policy (e.g. the UK) and jurisdictional (e.g. England and Wales) spatial scales. The application of this framework is illustrated with reference to two major drought events (1976 and 2003-2006) in the UK in Lange et al. (2017).

HistoricDroughts Conceptual Framework

                  Conceptual Framework developed within Historic Droughts (after Lange et al. 2017)

Lange, B., Holman, I.Bloomfield, J.P.: 2017. A framework for a joint hydro-meteorological-social analysis of drought. Science of the Total Environment, 758, 297-306, 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.145.
Rekolainen, S., Kämäri, J., M. Hiltunen, M., Saloranta, T.M.: 2003. A conceptual framework for identifying the need and role of models in the implementation of the water framework directive. International Journal of River Basin Management 1(4): 347-352.