Compound droughts under climate change in Switzerland
Abstract. The co-occurrence of meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological droughts (multivariate compound droughts) in Switzerland during growing season is problematic due to limitations in water abstractions from rivers during low flow periods, while at the same time the need for irrigation is high. We analyse compound droughts for 52 catchments in Switzerland during the extended summer season (May–Oct) using the transient climate and hydrological scenarios for Switzerland (CH2018 and Hydro-CH2018) for both a scenario with mitigation (RCP2.6, 8 model chains) and without mitigation (RCP8.5, 20 model chains). In the RCP8.5 scenario the number of compound drought days is projected to significantly increase by mid-century across all greater regions of Switzerland. The increased frequency is mainly a result of more frequent events (significant) rather than longer event durations (non-significant). Models generally agree on the sign of change. By 2085, compound drought events are projected to occur in median once per catchment per extended summer season north of the Alps and every 1–2 years south of the Alps. Further, the increases in compound drought days mainly occur between May–Oct leading to a shift into the main agricultural production season and a more pronounced seasonality with highest occurrence probabilities between mid-July and the begin of October. Coupled to the increase in days and events, significantly more catchments are projected to be affected by compound droughts at the same time. In the RCP2.6 (mitigation) scenario, the increase in the number of compound drought days and events is not significant by the end of the 21st century. In comparison with RCP8.5, the number of compound drought days are reduced by 50–55 % north of the Alps and up to 75 % south of the Alps by the end of the century. This emphasizes the need for coordinated adaptation in combination with mitigation measures taken at early stage.
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