Publication details

The extreme drought episode of August 2011–May 2012 in the Czech Republic

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Year of publication 2015
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source International Journal of Climatology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Atmosphere sciences, meteorology
Keywords drought; meteorological drought; agricultural drought; hydrological drought; fire; drought impact; future climate; Czech Republic; Central Europe
Description The weather conditions from August 2011 to May 2012 produced an extreme drought in the eastern Czech Republic (Moravia), whereas the patterns were nearly normal in its western region (Bohemia). The Southern and Central Moravia regions, which represent the most important agricultural areas, were most affected by the drought. The precipitation totals for the studied period were 50–70% of the long-term mean, which was calculated for 1961–2000. In autumn 2011, the total precipitation accounted for 10–30% of the long-term mean for most of Moravia, increasing to 30–50% in spring 2012. Moreover, 7.5% of the Czech Republic experienced a 100-year drought; 20% of the country experienced a 20-year drought. According to the Palmer Drought Severity Index, the 2012 drought was classified as the worst in the past 130 years. The drought patterns were related to the prevailing high-pressure systems over Central Europe and the occurrence of weather types with different precipitation amounts in Bohemia and Moravia. The most substantial drought effects occurred in the agricultural sector. A decrease in cereal yields was observed in the analysed production areas in Moravia, which was unprecedented in the past 52 years. Moreover, winter crops were affected more than spring crops. An increased risk of fire occurred due to the drought conditions; the largest forest fire in the past 15 years was recorded during this period. Furthermore, signs of hydrological drought were also reported in rivers. The 2011–2012 drought was compared with the significant droughts in 2000, 2003 and 2007. Austria and Slovakia, which neighbour the Czech Republic, experienced a similar drought. Global circulation model sensitivity experiments appear to indicate that droughts similar to this episode may be occurring at a recurrence interval of 20 years by the 2050s.
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