How well do meteorological indicators represent agricultural and forest drought across Europe?

Bachmair, S.; Tanguy, M.; Hannaford, J. ORCID:; Stahl, K.. 2018 How well do meteorological indicators represent agricultural and forest drought across Europe? Environmental Research Letters, 13 (3), 034042. 10, pp.

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Drought monitoring and early warning (M&EW) systems are an important component of agriculture/silviculture drought risk assessment. Many operational information systems rely mostly on meteorological indicators, a few incorporate vegetation state information. However, the relationships between meteorological drought indicators and agricultural/silvicultural drought impacts vary across Europe. The details of this variability have not been elucidated sufficiently on a continental scale in Europe to inform drought risk management at administrative scales. The objective of this study is to fill this gap and evaluate how useful the variety of meteorological indicators are to assess agricultural/silvicultural drought across Europe. The first part of the analysis systematically linked meteorological drought indicators to remote sensing based vegetation indices (VIs) for Europe at NUTs3 administrative regions scale using correlation analysis for crops and forests. In a second step, a stepwise multiple linear regression model was deployed to identify variables explaining the spatial differences observed. Finally, corn crop yield in Germany was chosen as a case study to verify VIs representativeness of agricultural drought impacts. Results show that short accumulation periods of SPI and SPEI are best linked to crop vegetation stress in most cases, which further validates the use of SPI3 in existing operational drought monitors. However, large regional differences in correlations are also revealed. Climate (temperature and precipitation) explained the largest proportion of variance, suggesting that meteorological indices are less informative of agricultural/silvicultural drought in colder/wetter parts of Europe. These findings provide important context for interpreting meteorological indices on widely used national to continental M&EW systems, leading to a better understanding of where/when such M&EW tools can be indicative of likely agricultural stress and impacts.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1748-9326
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access publication - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 16 Feb 2018 15:50 +0 (UTC)

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