Articles | Volume 26, issue 6
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 26, 1527–1543, 2022
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-26-1527-2022
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 26, 1527–1543, 2022
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-26-1527-2022
Research article
 | Highlight paper
22 Mar 2022
Research article  | Highlight paper | 22 Mar 2022

Evaporation enhancement drives the European water-budget deficit during multi-year droughts

Christian Massari et al.

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Addy, K., Gold, A. J., Welsh, M. K., August, P. V., Stolt, M. H., Arango, C. P., and Groffman, P. M.: Connectivity and Nitrate Uptake Potential of Intermittent Streams in the Northeast USA, Front. Ecol. Evol., 7, 225, https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2019.00225, 2019. 
Alvarez-Garreton, C., Boisier, J. P., Garreaud, R., Seibert, J., and Vis, M.: Progressive water deficits during multiyear droughts in basins with long hydrological memory in Chile, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 25, 429–446, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-25-429-2021, 2021. 
Amin, A., Zuecco, G., Geris, J., Schwendenmann, L., McDonnell, J. J., Borga, M., and Penna, D.: Depth distribution of soil water sourced by plants at the global scale: A new direct inference approach, Ecohydrology, 13, e2177, https://doi.org/10.1002/eco.2177, 2020. 
Armstrong, A., Stedman, R. C., Bishop, J. A., and Sullivan, P. J.: What's a Stream Without Water? Disproportionality in Headwater Regions Impacting Water Quality, Environ. Manage., 50, 849–860, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-012-9928-0, 2012. 
Avanzi, F., Rungee, J., Maurer, T., Bales, R., Ma, Q., Glaser, S., and Conklin, M.: Climate elasticity of evapotranspiration shifts the water balance of Mediterranean climates during multi-year droughts, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 24, 4317–4337, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-24-4317-2020, 2020. 
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Short summary
Droughts are a creeping disaster, meaning that their onset, duration and recovery are challenging to monitor and forecast. Here, we provide further evidence of an additional challenge of droughts, i.e. the fact that the deficit in water supply during droughts is generally much more than expected based on the observed decline in precipitation. At a European scale we explain this with enhanced evapotranspiration, sustained by higher atmospheric demand for moisture during such dry periods.