16 Nov 2021

16 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Different drought types and the spatial variability in their hazard, impact, and propagation characteristics

Erik Tijdeman1, Veit Blauhut2, Michael Stoelzle2, Lucas Menzel1, and Kerstin Stahl2 Erik Tijdeman et al.
  • 1Professorship of Hydrology and Climatology, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

Abstract. Droughts often have a severe impact on environment, society, and economy. Only a multifaceted assessment of such droughts and their impacts can provide insights in the variables and scales that are relevant for drought management. Motivated by this aim, we compared hazard and propagation characteristics as well as impacts of major droughts between 1990–2019 in Southwestern Germany. We bring together high-resolution datasets of air temperature, precipitation, soil moisture simulations, streamflow and groundwater level observations, as well as text-based information on drought impacts. Various drought characteristics were derived from the hydrometeorological and drought impact time series and compared across variables and spatial scales. Results revealed different drought types sharing similar hazard and impact characteristics. The most severe drought type identified is an intense multi-seasonal drought type peaking in summer, i.e. the events in 2003, 2015 and 2018. This drought type appeared in all domains of the hydrological cycle and coincided with high air temperatures, causing a high number and variability of drought impacts. The regional average drought signals of this drought type exhibit typical drought propagation characteristics such as a time lag between meteorological and hydrological drought, whereas propagation characteristics of local drought signals are variable in space. This spatial variability in drought hazard increased when droughts propagated through the hydrological cycle, causing distinct differences among variables, and regional average and local drought information. Accordingly, single variable or regional average drought information is considered to be not sufficient to fully explain the variety of drought impacts that occurred. In addition to large-scale drought monitoring, drought management needs to consider local drought information from different hydrometeorological variables and could be type based.

Erik Tijdeman et al.

Status: open (until 28 Dec 2021)

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Erik Tijdeman et al.

Data sets

Daily Gridded Soil Moisture Simulations on a 1 Km Resolution Grid Covering Baden-Württemberg Tijdeman, E., Menzel, L.

Erik Tijdeman et al.


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Short summary
We identified different drought types with typical hazard and impact characteristics. The summer drought type with compounding heat was most impactful. Regional drought propagation of this drought type exhibited typical characteristics that can guide drought management. However, we also found a large spatial variability that caused distinct differences among propagating drought signals. Accordingly, local multivariate drought information was needed to explain the full range of drought impacts.