Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-522
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-522

  26 Oct 2020

26 Oct 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Coherence of Global Hydroclimate Classification Systems

Kathryn L. McCurley Pisarello and James W. Jawitz Kathryn L. McCurley Pisarello and James W. Jawitz
  • Soil and Water Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA

Abstract. Climate classification systems are useful for investigating future climate scenarios, water availability, and even socioeconomic indicators as they relate to climate dynamics. These classification systems typically utilize various forms of water and energy indicators to create zone boundaries. However, there has yet to be a classification framework that includes evapotranspiration (ET) rates as a governing principle, nor has there been an effort to simultaneously compare the structure and function of multiple existing classification schemes. Here, we developed three new classification systems based on ET rates and one new system based on precipitation and potential evapotranspiration, and we compared these four new systems against four previously established climate classification systems. The within-zone similarity, or coherence, of long-term water budget components was evaluated for each system based on the premise that the application of a climate classification framework should correspond to those variables that are most coherent. Additionally, the complexity of zone boundaries in each system was assessed. The most frequently used system, Koppen-Geiger, had high hydroclimate coherence but also high spatial complexity. This study produced classification systems of improved coherence for individual water budget components, lower spatial complexity, and fewer parameters needed for their construction. The Water-Energy Clustering classification system is the primary framework proposed here for future investigations in which regions of interest include zones of differing hydrologic dynamics.

Kathryn L. McCurley Pisarello and James W. Jawitz

 
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
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Kathryn L. McCurley Pisarello and James W. Jawitz

Kathryn L. McCurley Pisarello and James W. Jawitz

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Short summary
Climate classification systems are tools for dividing Earth’s surface into regions of similar climates. We compared the hydroclimatic similarity of a suite of climate classification systems, including new ones proposed here. The most frequently used system had high similarity, but with high complexity. A new framework proposed here, Water-Energy Clustering, also had high coherence, but with less complexity. This new system is therefore proposed for future hydroclimate assessments.