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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 22, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1337-1349, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-1337-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1337-1349, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-1337-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Opinion article 23 Feb 2018

Opinion article | 23 Feb 2018

Norms and values in sociohydrological models

Mahendran Roobavannan1, Tim H. M. van Emmerik2, Yasmina Elshafei3, Jaya Kandasamy1, Matthew R. Sanderson4, Saravanamuthu Vigneswaran1, Saket Pande2, and Murugesu Sivapalan5,6 Mahendran Roobavannan et al.
  • 1School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • 2Department of Water Management, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 3School of Earth & Environment, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
  • 4Department of Sociology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
  • 5Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
  • 6Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA

Abstract. Sustainable water resources management relies on understanding how societies and water systems coevolve. Many place-based sociohydrology (SH) modeling studies use proxies, such as environmental degradation, to capture key elements of the social component of system dynamics. Parameters of assumed relationships between environmental degradation and the human response to it are usually obtained through calibration. Since these relationships are not yet underpinned by social-science theories, confidence in the predictive power of such place-based sociohydrologic models remains low. The generalizability of SH models therefore requires major advances in incorporating more realistic relationships, underpinned by appropriate hydrological and social-science data and theories. The latter is a critical input, since human culture – especially values and norms arising from it – influences behavior and the consequences of behaviors. This paper reviews a key social-science theory that links cultural factors to environmental decision-making, assesses how to better incorporate social-science insights to enhance SH models, and raises important questions to be addressed in moving forward. This is done in the context of recent progress in sociohydrological studies and the gaps that remain to be filled. The paper concludes with a discussion of challenges and opportunities in terms of generalization of SH models and the use of available data to allow future prediction and model transfer to ungauged basins.

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This paper reviews a relevant social science that links cultural factors to environmental decision-making and assesses how to better incorporate its insights to enhance sociohydrological (SH) models and the knowledge gaps that remain to be filled. The paper concludes with a discussion of challenges and opportunities in terms of generalization of SH models and the use of available data to facilitate future prediction and allow model transfer to ungauged basins.
This paper reviews a relevant social science that links cultural factors to environmental...
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