CP CHC PictureThe global hydrological cycle is composed of many different and interconnected elements, which include evaporation from water surfaces and bare soil, evapotranspiration from vegetated land, transport of water vapour in the atmosphere, cloud droplet formation and cloud dynamics, liquid and solid precipitation, glaciers and snow cover dynamics, surface and river runoff, and subsurface processes such as root dynamics in vegetation and groundwater flow.

The different components of the hydrological cycle react in complex, dynamic and often non-linear ways to climate change, sometimes leading to an amplification of the initial change, sometimes giving rise to negative feedbacks. While hydrological impacts of climate change - such as spatial and temporal alterations in water balance, streamflow and extreme events (floods, droughts) - typically occur at regional or local scales, they can initiate modifications that lead to larger-scale or even global changes in the water cycle.
All scales are interconnected.

This Collaborative Programme fosters the study of changes in the hydrological cycle and its impacts at global and regional scales and aims at improving the scientific understanding of hydrological processes under modified climatic boundary conditions and of their effects.

research topics

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Global precipitation changes and runoff



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Interaction between climate and hydrological/land surface processes



CP CHC Picture3Climate hot spot regions: Mediterranean region and Global Mountains



CP CHC Picture4Societal challenges related to impact of changes in the hydrological cycle



Collaboration (Projects/Initiatives)

For this, the research groups and institutions involved in ECRA collaborate with other European and international scientific initiatives, such as the Belmont Forum with its Collaborative Research Actions (CRAs), the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) and collaborations with existing national and international projects, e.g. the EU H2020 projects ECOPOTENTIAL, CRESCENDO and PRIMAVERA. New proposals and joint actions will be developed during the research activities.


The CP Changes in the Hydrological Cycle has organised three Workshops, two joint Workshops together with the CP High Impact Events as well as one Policy Briefing at the European Parliament so far. For further information on the Workshops, please follow this link.


The Hydrological Cycle Briefing Document (March 2015) includes a Special Focus on “The changing mountains of Europe – Water resources and ecosystems at risk”. It will be made available for download here soon.

A Factsheet presenting key issues as well as recommendations for research priorities in H2020 and beyond was prepared for ECRA’s General Assembly 2017. It is available for download here.


Coordinated by:

Ralf Ludwig, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, DE, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lisa Palazzi, National Research Council of Italy (CNR), IT, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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