A drier south: Europe's drought trends match climate change projections

phys.org | 10/25/2017 | Staff
townskey13 (Posted by) Level 3
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On the same day that global leaders wrapped up an international water and climate summit in Rome, researchers published new findings that suggest European drought trends are lining up with climate change projections.

Their study, published Oct. 25 in Scientific Reports, shows that two major drought indices are deviating from one another across Europe in a manner consistent with climate change simulations.

Drop - Bucket - Climate - Change - Attribution

"This is one more big drop in the bucket toward climate change attribution," said lead author James Stagge, a post-doc at Utah State University's Utah Water Research Lab. "There have been a lot of projections, but now that we're starting to see the projections and observations line up, it's not a question of 'is it happening?' It's a question of 'how much?' And 'what do we do?'"

The spatial patterns observed by Stagge and his team match climate change projections for Europe that suggest decreases in drought frequency in the north and increases in drought frequency in the south.

Temperature - Europe - Hallmarks - Climate - Change

"Once you add in the temperature increases for all of Europe, you have all the hallmarks of climate change," Stagge said.

As temperatures increase across Europe, evapotranspiration - meaning what is leaving the ground and going back into the atmosphere - increases. Stagge explained that although one drought index captures this concept, the other does not.

Evapotranspiration - Border - Wetter - Drier

"When you include evapotranspiration, the border from where it's getting wetter to where it's getting drier is pushing farther and farther north," he said. "So it's not just the...
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