Publication details

Drought trends over part of Central Europe between 1961 and 2014

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Year of publication 2016
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Climate Research
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Atmosphere sciences, meteorology
Keywords SPI; PDSI; SPEI; Z-index; ICDI; drought climatology; climate trends
Description An increase in drought frequency, duration and severity is expected for the Central European region as a direct consequence of climate change. This will have profound effects on a number of key sectors (e.g. agriculture, forestry, energy production and tourism) and also affect water resources, biodiversity and the landscape as a whole. However, global circulation models significantly differ in their projections for Central Europe with respect to the magnitude and timing of these changes. Therefore, analysis of changes in drought characteristics during the last 54 yr in relation to prevailing climate trends might significantly enhance our understanding of present and future drought risks. This study is based on a set of drought indices, including the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), the Palmer Zindex (Z-index) and the Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), in their most advanced formulations. The time series of the drought indices were calculated for 411 climatological stations across Austria (excluding the Alps), the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Up to 45% of the evaluated stations (depending on the index) became significantly drier during the 1961-2014 period except for areas in the west and north of the studied region. In addition to identifying the regions with the most pronounced drying trends, a drying trend consistency across the station network of 3 independent national weather services was shown. The main driver behind this development was an increase in the evaporative demand of the atmosphere, driven by higher temperatures and global radiation with limited changes in precipitation totals. The observed drying trends were most pronounced during the April-September period and in lower elevations. Conversely, the majority of stations above 1000 m exhibited a significant wetting trend for both the summer and winter (October-March) half-years.
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