Articles | Volume 17, issue 1
Research article
17 Jan 2013
Research article |  | 17 Jan 2013

Streamflow droughts in the Iberian Peninsula between 1945 and 2005: spatial and temporal patterns

J. Lorenzo-Lacruz, E. Morán-Tejeda, S. M. Vicente-Serrano, and J. I. López-Moreno

Abstract. In this study we analyzed the spatiotemporal variability of streamflow droughts in the Iberian Peninsula from 1945 to 2005. Streamflow series belonging to 187 homogeneously distributed gauging stations across the study area were used to develop a standardized streamflow index (SSI), which facilitated comparison among regimes and basins, regardless of streamflow magnitudes. A principal component analysis was performed to identify homogeneous hydrological regions having common features based on the temporal evolution of streamflows. Identification of drought events was carried out using a threshold level approach. We assessed the duration and magnitude of drought episodes and the changes that occurred between two contrasting periods for each hydrological region. The results showed a trend toward increased drought severity in the majority of regions. Drought duration, magnitude and spatial coverage were found to depend mainly on climatic conditions and the water storage strategies in each basin. In some basins these strategies have altered river regimes, and in others created a high level of dependence on storage and water transfer rates.