Watershed resilience to climate change: From hillslopes to rivers and coasts

Elsevier, Evolving Earth, Volume 1, 1 December 2023
Paolo Tarolli, Giulia Zuecco, Lorenzo Picco

Climate is changing rapidly, resulting in more frequent and extreme weather events, such as megadroughts or flash droughts, intense rainfall events causing floods and landslides, heavy snowfalls, and windstorms. With a rising global population and increased levels of urbanization, the socio-economic consequences of these changes to Earth's surface processes are severe and have a more significant impact than in the past. A critical need is to improve understanding of physical processes at the watershed scale by integrating modern technologies. This will help define change hotspots and detect cascade effects from hillslopes through rivers to coastal areas. In this watershed approach to resilience management, adaptative strategies need to be re-balanced in terms of structural and non-structural measures. On the one hand, sustainable structural solutions may be the only choice for some densely populated urban areas. On the other hand, Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) may offer an unparalleled approach to combining sustainability and resilience while preserving ecosystems. The lack of a sustainable response to climate change will have only one result: land abandonment with related migration and conflicts.