Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-569
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-569

  24 Nov 2021

24 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Long-term trends in agricultural droughts over Netherlands and Germany: how extreme was the year 2018?

Yafei Huang1, Jonas Weis2, Harry Vereecken1, and Harrie-Jan Hendricks Franssen1 Yafei Huang et al.
  • 1Forschungszentrum Jülich, Agrosphere (IBG 3), Jülich, 52425, Germany
  • 2The Hydrogeology Department, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 76131, Karlsruhe, Germany

Abstract. Droughts can have important impacts on environment and economy like in the year 2018 in parts of Europe. Droughts can be analyzed in terms of meteorological drought, agricultural drought, hydrological drought and social-economic drought. In this paper, we focus on meteorological and agricultural drought and analyzed drought trends for the period 1965–2019 and assessed how extreme the drought year 2018 was in Germany and the Netherlands. The analysis was made on the basis of the following drought indices: standardized precipitation index (SPI), standardized soil moisture index (SSI), potential precipitation deficit (PPD) and ET deficit. SPI and SSI were computed at two time scales, the period April-September and a 12-months period. In order to analyze drought trends and the ranking of the year 2018, HYDRUS 1-D simulations were carried out for 31 sites with long-term meteorological observations and soil moisture, potential evapotranspiration (ET) and actual ET were determined for five soil types (clay, silt, loam, sandy loam and loamy sand). The results show that the year 2018 was severely dry, which was especially related to the highest potential ET in the time series 1965–2019, for most of the sites. For around half of the 31 sites the year 2018 had the lowest SSI, and largest PPD and ET-deficit in the 1965–2019 time series, followed by 1976 and 2003. The trend analysis reveals that meteorological drought (SPI) hardly shows significant trends over 1965–2019 over the studied domain, but agricultural droughts (SSI) are increasing, at several sites significantly, and at even more sites PPD and ET deficit show significant trends. The increasing droughts over Germany and Netherlands are mainly driven by increasing potential ET and increasing vegetation water demand.

Yafei Huang et al.

Status: open (until 19 Jan 2022)

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Yafei Huang et al.

Yafei Huang et al.

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Short summary
Trends in agricultural droughts cannot be easily deduced from measurements. Here trends in agricultural droughts over 31 German and Dutch sites were calculated with model simulations and long-term observed meteorological data as input. We found that agricultural droughts are increasing although precipitation hardly decreases. The increase is driven by increase in evapotranspiration. The year 2018 was for half of the sites the year with the most extreme agricultural drought in the last 55 years.