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Hydrological drought explained

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Drought is a complex natural hazard that impacts ecosystems and society in many ways. Many of these impacts are associated with hydrological drought (drought in rivers, lakes, and groundwater). It is, therefore, crucial to understand the development and recovery of hydrological drought. In this review an overview is given of the current state of scientific knowledge of definitions, processes, and quantification of hydrological drought. Special attention is given to the influence of climate and terrestrial properties (geology, land use) on hydrological drought characteristics and the role of storage. Furthermore, the current debate about the use and usefulness of different drought indicators is highlighted and recent advances in drought monitoring and prediction are mentioned. Research on projections of hydrological drought for the future is summarized. This review also briefly touches upon the link of hydrological drought characteristics with impacts and the issues related to drought management. Finally, four challenges for future research on hydrological drought are defined that relate international initiatives such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the ‘Panta Rhei’ decade of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS). WIREs Water 2015, 2:359–392. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1085 This article is categorized under: Science of Water > Hydrological Processes Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change Science of Water > Water Extremes
Examples of impacts of the 2003 summer drought in Europe, including effects on agriculture, health, transport, energy, and ecology. (Figure by A.J. Teuling, Wageningen University)
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Threshold level method with variable threshold for groundwater storage (upper row) and discharge (lower row), including an illustration of pooling method and drought characteristics duration, deficit volume, and maximum deviation.
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Methodology to determine the Standardized Precipitation Index (Reprinted with permission from Lloyd‐Hughes and Saunders).
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Spatial and temporal scales of hydrological processes including floods and droughts. (Reprinted with permission from Stahl and Hisdal)
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Synthetic time series representing the propagation of a meteorological anomaly (precipitation and/or temperature) through the terrestrial hydrological cycle for a selection of hydrological drought types (Reprinted with permission from Van Loon et al.). The x‐axis represents one year and the tick marks indicate the months. The black lines are the time series of each hydrometeorological variable, the gray lines in the upper two rows are long‐term averages of air temperature and snow, the dashed lines represent the threshold levels, and the red surfaces indicate drought events. Propagation of drought events is indicated by the arrows, dashed arrows represent a lack of recovery of the hydrological drought (meteorological drought ceased). For description, see Table
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Features characterizing the propagation of meteorological drought(s) to hydrological drought: pooling, lag, attenuation, and lengthening. (Reprinted with permission from Hisdal and Tallaksen)
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Propagation of a precipitation anomaly through the terrestrial part of the hydrological cycle for various variables, (a) synthetic time series: 0, mean, +, positive anomaly, −, negative anomaly, (b) time series of the Pang catchment (UK): P, precipitation, Sr, soil moisture storage in the root zone, H, groundwater level, and Q, streamflow. Propagation of drought events is indicated by the arrows. Note that the order of the variables is different in (a) and (b).
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Scheme representing different categories of drought and their development. (Derived from Peters, Van Loon, Stahl).
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Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change
Science of Water > Water Extremes
Science of Water > Hydrological Processes

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