Drought indices revisited – improving and testing of drought indices in a simulation of the last two millennia for Europe

Raible, Christoph; Bärenbold, Oliver; Gomez, Juan Jose (2017). Drought indices revisited – improving and testing of drought indices in a simulation of the last two millennia for Europe. Tellus. Series A - dynamic meteorology and oceanography, 69(1), p. 1287492. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/16000870.2017.1296226

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Over the past decades, different drought indices have been suggested in the literature. This study tackles the problem of how to characterize droughts by defining a framework and proposing a generalized family of drought indices that is flexible regarding the use of different hydrological fluxes in the water balance. The sensitivity of various indices and its skill to represent drought conditions is evaluated using a regional model simulation for Europe spanning the last two millennia as test bed. The framework combines an exponentially damped memory with a normalization method based on quantile mapping. Both approaches are more robust and physically meaningful compared to the existing methods used to define drought indices. Still, the framework is flexible with respect to hydrological fluxes used for the water balance, enabling users to adapt the index formulation to the data availability of different locations. Based on it, indices using different hydrological fluxes in the water balance are compared with each other showing that a drought index considering only precipitation in the water balance is sufficient for western to central Europe. In the Mediterranean, temperature effects via evapotranspiration rather than potential evapotranspiration, need to be considered to produce meaningful indices representative of water deficit. In addition, our results indicate that in north-eastern Europe and Scandinavia, snow and run-off effects need to be considered simultaneously in the index definition to obtain accurate results.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics

UniBE Contributor:

Raible, Christoph and Gomez, Juan Jose

Subjects:

500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

0280-6495

Publisher:

Taylor & Francis

Language:

English

Submitter:

Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

06 Jun 2017 11:07

Last Modified:

10 Sep 2017 15:09

Publisher DOI:

10.1080/16000870.2017.1296226

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.100807

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/100807

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