Guest seminar, Julia Mömken, The Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK), KIT


Date: Tuesday 27 September 2022

Time: 11.15 – 12.15

Location: C609 Rossbysalen, MISU, Svante Arrhenius väg 16C, 6th floor

Title: Recurrence of drought events over Iberia under present and future climate conditions


Seasonal droughts are a common feature of the Iberian climate. They can have severe socioeconomic and ecological impacts – especially, when recurring in consecutive years. We investigate the recurrence of extreme drought events in the Iberian Peninsula (IP) for the past decades and in regional climate change projections. With this aim, we introduce and apply a new set of indices: the Recurrent Dry Year Index (RDYI) and the Consecutive Drought Year (CDY) Index. For the present climate, different gridded observational and reanalysis datasets at several spatial resolutions (10 to 25km) are used. To analyse the potential impacts of climate change, we apply the indices to a large EURO-CORDEX multi-model ensemble with 12km horizontal resolution consisting of 25 different global-to-regional model (GCM-RCM) chains for the historical period and future periods along the RCP8.5 scenario.

Results show that the IP is regularly affected by extreme droughts under present climate conditions, with roughly three individual events per decade. Especially the southern and central parts of IP are exposed to recurrent events, which last between two and six years. Under different global warming levels (GWLs), results reveal a general tendency towards more severe drought conditions. Moreover, recurrent drought events are projected to occur more frequent and last longer (up to 14 years). While the ensemble mean responses are only moderate for a GWL of +2°C (compared to the pre-industrial average), recurrent drought conditions are strongly enhanced for the +3°C GWL. The climate change signals are robust for most of IP and the considered recurrent drought indices, with a larger model agreement for the +3°C GWL. For both present and future climate conditions, results show some sensitivity on the choice of index and dataset.

We conclude that the new indices are suitable for the detection and evaluation of recurrent drought events under present and future climate conditions. With ongoing climate change, the Iberian Peninsula faces an increased risk of recurrent drought events. If global warming should exceed the +3°C threshold, the majority of models projects an almost permanent state of drought – with severe consequences for the Iberian population and ecosystems.


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