Articles | Volume 13, issue 8
25 Aug 2009
 | 25 Aug 2009

Observed drought and wetness trends in Europe: an update

I. Bordi, K. Fraedrich, and A. Sutera

Abstract. Linear and nonlinear trends of drought and wetness are analysed in terms of the gridded Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) determined from monthly precipitation in Europe (NCEP/NCAR). In characterizing the meteorological and hydrological aspects, the index is computed on a seasonal and on a bi-annual time scale. Two datasets are compared: one from 1949 to 1997 and the other one includes the update of the last decade (to February 2009). The following results are noted: (i) time series of drought and wetness area coverage (number of grid points above/below the severity threshold) show a remarkable linear trend until about the end of the last century, which is reversed in the last (update) decade. This recent trend reversal is an indication of a nonlinear trend, which is more pronounced on the hydrological time scale. (ii) A nonlinear trend analysis is performed based on the time series of the principal component (PC) associated to the first spatial SPI-eigenvector after embedding it in a time delay coordinate system using a sliding window of 70 months (singular spectrum analysis). Nonlinearity appears as a clear feature on the hydrological time scale. (iii) The first spatial EOF-patterns of the shorter and the longer (updated) SPI time series fields show similar structure. An inspection of the SPI time behaviour at selected grid points illustrates the spatial variability of the detected trends.