National-scale analysis of simulated hydrological droughts (1891–2015)

Rudd, Alison C.; Bell, Victoria A.; Kay, Alison L.. 2017 National-scale analysis of simulated hydrological droughts (1891–2015). Journal of Hydrology, 550. 368-385.

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Droughts are phenomena that affect people and ecosystems in a variety of ways. One way to help with resilience to future droughts is to understand the characteristics of historic droughts and how these have changed over the recent past. Although, on average, Great Britain experiences a relatively wet climate it is also prone to periods of low rainfall which can lead to droughts. Until recently research into droughts of Great Britain has been neglected compared to other natural hazards such as storms and floods. This study is the first to use a national-scale gridded hydrological model to characterise droughts across Great Britain over the last century. Firstly, the model performance at low flows is assessed and it is found that the model can simulate low flows well in many catchments across Great Britain. Next, the threshold level method is applied to time series of monthly mean river flow and soil moisture to identify historic droughts (1891–2015). It is shown that the national-scale gridded output can be used to identify historic drought periods. A quantitative assessment of drought characteristics shows that groundwater-dependent areas typically experience more severe droughts, which have longer durations rather than higher intensities. There is substantial spatial and temporal variability in the drought characteristics, but there are no consistent changes through time.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Reynard
ISSN: 0022-1694
Additional Keywords: drought severity, river flow modelling, low flow, soil moisture, drought characteristics, Great Britain
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Date made live: 27 Jul 2017 09:27 +0 (UTC)

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