Articles | Volume 16, issue 3
Research article
21 Mar 2016
Research article |  | 21 Mar 2016

Impacts of European drought events: insights from an international database of text-based reports

Kerstin Stahl, Irene Kohn, Veit Blauhut, Julia Urquijo, Lucia De Stefano, Vanda Acácio, Susana Dias, James H. Stagge, Lena M. Tallaksen, Eleni Kampragou, Anne F. Van Loon, Lucy J. Barker, Lieke A. Melsen, Carlo Bifulco, Dario Musolino, Alessandro de Carli, Antonio Massarutto, Dionysis Assimacopoulos, and Henny A. J. Van Lanen

Abstract. Drought is a natural hazard that can cause a wide range of impacts affecting the environment, society, and the economy. Providing an impact assessment and reducing vulnerability to these impacts for regions beyond the local scale, spanning political and sectoral boundaries, requires systematic and detailed data regarding impacts. This study presents an assessment of the diversity of drought impacts across Europe based on the European Drought Impact report Inventory (EDII), a unique research database that has collected close to 5000 impact reports from 33 European countries. The reported drought impacts were classified into major impact categories, each of which had a number of subtypes. The distribution of these categories and types was then analyzed over time, by country, across Europe and for particular drought events. The results show that impacts on agriculture and public water supply dominate the collection of drought impact reports for most countries and for all major drought events since the 1970s, while the number and relative fractions of reported impacts in other sectors can vary regionally and from event to event. The analysis also shows that reported impacts have increased over time as more media and website information has become available and environmental awareness has increased. Even though the distribution of impact categories is relatively consistent across Europe, the details of the reports show some differences. They confirm severe impacts in southern regions (particularly on agriculture and public water supply) and sector-specific impacts in central and northern regions (e.g., on forestry or energy production). The protocol developed thus enabled a new and more comprehensive view on drought impacts across Europe. Related studies have already developed statistical techniques to evaluate the link between drought indices and the categorized impacts using EDII data. The EDII is a living database and is a promising source for further research on drought impacts, vulnerabilities, and risks across Europe. A key result is the extensive variety of impacts found across Europe and its documentation. This insight can therefore inform drought policy planning at national to international levels.

Short summary
Based on the European Drought Impact report Inventory (EDII), the study presents an assessment of the occurrence and diversity of drought impacts across Europe. A unique research database has collected close to 5000 textual drought impact reports from 33 European countries. Consistently, reported impacts have been dominated in number by agriculture and water supply, but were very diverse across other sectors. Data and assessment may help drought policy planning at the international level.
Final-revised paper