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CR 70:143-160 (2016)  -  DOI:

Drought trends over part of Central Europe between 1961 and 2014

Miroslav Trnka1,2,*, Jan Balek1,2, Petr Štěpánek1,3, Pavel Zahradníček1,3, Martin Možný2,4, Josef Eitzinger5, Zdeněk Žalud1,2, Herbert Formayer5, Maroš Turňa6, Pavol Nejedlík7, Daniela Semerádová1, Petr Hlavinka1,2, Rudolf Brázdil1,8

1Global Change Research Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Bĕlidla 986/4a, 603 00 Brno, Czech Republic
2Department of Agrosystems and Bioclimatology, Mendel University in Brno, Zemĕlská 1, 613 00 Brno, Czech Republic
3Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Brno Regional Office, Kroftova 2578/43, 616 67 Brno, Czech Republic
4Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Doksany Observatory, Doksany 105, 411 85 Doksany, Czech Republic
5University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Institute of Meteorology, Peter-Jordan Strasse 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria
6Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute, Jeséniova 17, 833 15 Bratislava, Slovakia
7Earth Science Institute, Slovak Academy of Science, Dúbravská cesta 9, 845 28 Bratislava, Slovakia
8Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 611 37 Brno, Czech Republic
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: 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 Z-index (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.

KEY WORDS: SPI · PDSI · SPEI · Z-index · ICDI · Drought climatology · Climate trends

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Cite this article as: Trnka M, Balek J, Štěpánek P, Zahradníček P and others (2016) Drought trends over part of Central Europe between 1961 and 2014. Clim Res 70:143-160.

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