Climate, Water and Society cluster (CWS)

We aim to generate new knowledge that improves our understanding and ability to predict climate and water resources in a changing global environment. We take a systems approach linking an in-depth understanding of physical, chemical, biological and social processes across scales to help to preserve and restore environmental systems, to understand hydro-social relations, and to provide ecosystem and climate services for differentiated groups within society.


The cluster CWS consists of the following chair groups:

Research lines

Although our research is often interdisciplinary, cutting across compartments and disciplines in a flexible way, six longer term research domains can be distinguished, each being organised in the format of a chair group. We aim to develop synergy by combining the strengths of these chair groups.

The Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management (HWM) group focusses on understanding and prediction of hydrological processes in river basins and deltas for improved water management. The Meteorology and Air Quality (MAQ) group advances the fundamental understanding and prediction of atmospheric processes and their importance for weather, air quality and climate. The Aquatic Ecology and water quality management (AEW) group generates novel insights that help to preserve and restore marine and freshwater ecosystem services. Environmental Systems Analysis (ESA) studies environmental problems by exploring, modelling and communicating their causes, mechanisms, effects and potential solutions, combining quantitative, qualitative and multi- and transdisciplinary research. The Water systems and global change (WSG) group improves the understanding of how water systems are affected by global change, what the impacts are on nature and society, and how to adapt to these changes. Finally, the Water Resources Management (WRM) group performs interdisciplinary research at the intersection of water, technology and society.

Much of our work is driven by understanding and adapting to the impacts of global change. Aspects of global change we focus on are changes in extreme weather, water and land use, environmental degradation, water justice and climate change. Other important cross cutting themes of the cluster are water management, transition to sustainable energy, improving environmental quality, and climate & ecosystem services.


CWS employs about 70 staff members, 20 postdocs and 140 PhD candidates. The research staff is divided over 6 chair groups, with each of the groups being managed by one or more chair holders. Each of the six groups has a sufficient number of staff members, PhD students and postdocs to make an impact within their field. Since its inception in 2017 the CWS chair holders coordinate the cluster’s activities. Staff members from each of the chair groups meet on a regular basis to further strengthen collaboration within the cluster.

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