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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-307
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-307
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  26 Jun 2020

26 Jun 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Controls on the development and persistence of soil moisture drought across Southwestern Germany

Erik Tijdeman and Lucas Menzel Erik Tijdeman and Lucas Menzel
  • Institute of Geography, Professorship in Hydrology and Climatology, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany

Abstract. The drought of 2018 in Central and Northern Europe showed once more the large impact this natural hazard can have on the environment and society. Such droughts are often seen as slowly developing phenomena. However, root zone soil moisture deficits can rapidly develop during periods of lacking precipitation and meteorological conditions that favour high evapotranspiration rates. These periods of soil moisture drought stress can persist for as long as the meteorological drought conditions last, thereby negatively affecting vegetation and crop health. In this study, we aim to characterize past soil moisture drought stress events over the cropland of South-Western Germany as well as to relate the characteristics of these past events to different soil and climate properties. We first simulated daily soil moisture over the period 1989–2018 on a 1-km resolution grid using the physical based hydrological model TRAIN. We then derived various soil moisture drought stress characteristics; likelihood, development time and persistence, from the simulated time series of all agricultural grid cells (n ≈ 15 000). Logistic regression and correlation were then applied to relate the derived characteristics to the storage capacity of the root zone as well as to the climatological setting. Results reveal that the majority of the agricultural grid cells across the study region reached soil moisture drought stress during prominent drought years. The development time of these soil moisture drought stress events varied substantially, from as little as 10 days to up to 4 months. The persistence of soil moisture drought stress varied as well and was especially high for the drought of 2018. The dominant control on the likelihood and development time of soil moisture drought stress was found to be the storage capacity of the root zone, whereas the persistence was not strongly linearly related to any of the considered controls. Overall, results give insights in the large spatial and temporal variability of soil moisture drought stress characteristics and highlight the importance of considering differences in root zone soil storage for agricultural drought assessments.

Erik Tijdeman and Lucas Menzel

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Erik Tijdeman and Lucas Menzel

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Daily gridded soil moisture simulations on a 1 km resolution grid covering Baden-Württemberg E. Tijdeman and L. Menzel https://heidata.uni-heidelberg.de/privateurl.xhtml?token=fb658f7f-0ec8-49db-84d0-a8e726936743

Erik Tijdeman and Lucas Menzel

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Short summary
Agricultural droughts, i.e. low amounts of soil moisture in the root zone, negatively affect crop health and productivity. In this study, we characterized their development time and duration across the croplands of Southwestern Germany. Development time mainly varied within drought years, from 10 days up to 4 months, and was related to the available water holding capacity of the root zone. Duration varied both within and between drought years and was especially high in 2018 (up to 5 months).
Agricultural droughts, i.e. low amounts of soil moisture in the root zone, negatively affect...
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