Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 8 of 8 items for

  • Author or Editor: Daniel J. McEvoy x
  • Refine by Access: Content accessible to me x
Clear All Modify Search
Benjamin J. Hatchett
and
Daniel J. McEvoy

Abstract

The concept of snow drought is gaining widespread interest as the climate of snow-dominated mountain watersheds continues to change. Warm snow drought is defined as above- or near-average accumulated precipitation coinciding with below-average snow water equivalent at a point in time. Dry snow drought is defined as below-average accumulated precipitation and snow water equivalent at a point in time. This study contends that such point-in-time definitions might miss important components of how snow droughts originate, persist, and terminate. Using these simple definitions and a variety of observations at monthly, daily, and hourly time scales, the authors explore the hydrometeorological origins of potential snow droughts in the northern Sierra Nevada from water years 1951 to 2017. This study finds that snow droughts can result from extreme early season precipitation, frequent rain-on-snow events, and low precipitation years. Late-season snow droughts can follow persistent warm and dry periods with effects that depend upon elevation. Many snow droughts were characterized by lower snow fractions and midwinter peak runoff events. These findings can guide improved evaluations of historical and potential future snow droughts, particularly with regards to how impacts on water resources and mountain ecosystems may vary depending on how snow droughts originate and evolve in time.

Full access
Daniel J. McEvoy
,
John F. Mejia
, and
Justin L. Huntington

Abstract

Predicting sharp hydroclimatic gradients in the complex terrain of the Great Basin can prove to be challenging because of the lack of climate observations that are gradient focused. Furthermore, evaluating gridded data products (GDPs) of climate in such environments for use in local hydroclimatic assessments is also challenging and typically ignored because of the lack of observations. In this study, independent Nevada Climate-Ecohydrological Assessment Network (NevCAN) observations of temperature, relative humidity, and precipitation collected along large altitudinal gradients of the Snake and Sheep mountain ranges from water-year 2012 (October–September) are utilized to evaluate four GDPs of different spatial resolutions: Parameter–Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) 4 km, PRISM 800 m, Daymet 1 km, and a North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS)–PRISM hybrid 4-km product. Inconsistencies and biases in precipitation measurements due to station siting and gauge type proved to be problematic with respect to comparisons to GDPs. This study highlights a weakness of GDPs in complex terrain: an underestimation of inversion strength and resulting minimum temperature in foothill regions, where cold air regularly drains into neighboring valleys. Results also clearly indicate that for semiarid regions, the assumption that daily average dewpoint temperature Tdew equals daily minimum temperature does not hold true and should not be used to interpolate Tdew spatially. Comparison statistics of GDPs to observations varied depending on the climate variable and grid spatial resolution, highlighting the importance of conducting local evaluations for hydroclimatic assessments.

Full access
John T. Abatzoglou
,
Daniel J. McEvoy
, and
Kelly T. Redmond
Open access
Daniel J. McEvoy
,
Justin L. Huntington
,
John T. Abatzoglou
, and
Laura M. Edwards

Abstract

Nevada and eastern California are home to some of the driest and warmest climates, most mountainous regions, and fastest growing metropolitan areas of the United States. Throughout Nevada and eastern California, snow-dominated watersheds provide most of the water supply for both human and environmental demands. Increasing demands on finite water supplies have resulted in the need to better monitor drought and its associated hydrologic and agricultural impacts. Two multiscalar drought indices, the standardized precipitation index (SPI) and the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI), are evaluated over Nevada and eastern California regions of the Great Basin using standardized streamflow, lake, and reservoir water surface stages to quantify wet and dry periods. Results show that both metrics are significantly correlated to surface water availability, with SPEI showing slightly higher correlations over SPI, suggesting that the inclusion of a simple term for atmospheric demand in SPEI is useful for characterizing hydrologic drought in arid regions. These results also highlight the utility of multiscalar drought indices as a proxy for summer groundwater discharge and baseflow periods.

Full access
Justin L. Huntington
,
Katherine C. Hegewisch
,
Britta Daudert
,
Charles G. Morton
,
John T. Abatzoglou
,
Daniel J. McEvoy
, and
Tyler Erickson

Abstract

The paucity of long-term observations, particularly in regions with heterogeneous climate and land cover, can hinder incorporating climate data at appropriate spatial scales for decision-making and scientific research. Numerous gridded climate, weather, and remote sensing products have been developed to address the needs of both land managers and scientists, in turn enhancing scientific knowledge and strengthening early-warning systems. However, these data remain largely inaccessible for a broader segment of users given the computational demands of big data. Climate Engine (http://ClimateEngine.org) is a web-based application that overcomes many computational barriers that users face by employing Google’s parallel cloud-computing platform, Google Earth Engine, to process, visualize, download, and share climate and remote sensing datasets in real time. The software application development and design of Climate Engine is briefly outlined to illustrate the potential for high-performance processing of big data using cloud computing. Second, several examples are presented to highlight a range of climate research and applications related to drought, fire, ecology, and agriculture that can be rapidly generated using Climate Engine. The ability to access climate and remote sensing data archives with on-demand parallel cloud computing has created vast opportunities for advanced natural resource monitoring and process understanding.

Open access
Daniel J. McEvoy
,
Justin L. Huntington
,
Michael T. Hobbins
,
Andrew Wood
,
Charles Morton
,
Martha Anderson
, and
Christopher Hain

Abstract

Precipitation, soil moisture, and air temperature are the most commonly used climate variables to monitor drought; however, other climatic factors such as solar radiation, wind speed, and humidity can be important drivers in the depletion of soil moisture and evolution and persistence of drought. This work assesses the Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) at multiple time scales for several hydroclimates as the second part of a two-part study. EDDI and individual evaporative demand components were examined as they relate to the dynamic evolution of flash drought over the central United States, characterization of hydrologic drought over the western United States, and comparison to commonly used drought metrics of the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), Standardized Soil Moisture Index (SSI), and the evaporative stress index (ESI). Two main advantages of EDDI over other drought indices are that it is independent of precipitation (similar to ESI) and it can be decomposed to identify the role individual evaporative drivers have on drought onset and persistence. At short time scales, spatial distributions and time series results illustrate that EDDI often indicates drought onset well in advance of the USDM, SPI, and SSI. Results illustrate the benefits of physically based evaporative demand estimates and demonstrate EDDI’s utility and effectiveness in an easy-to-implement agricultural early warning and long-term hydrologic drought–monitoring tool with potential applications in seasonal forecasting and fire-weather monitoring.

Full access
Michael T. Hobbins
,
Andrew Wood
,
Daniel J. McEvoy
,
Justin L. Huntington
,
Charles Morton
,
Martha Anderson
, and
Christopher Hain

Abstract

Many operational drought indices focus primarily on precipitation and temperature when depicting hydroclimatic anomalies, and this perspective can be augmented by analyses and products that reflect the evaporative dynamics of drought. The linkage between atmospheric evaporative demand E 0 and actual evapotranspiration (ET) is leveraged in a new drought index based solely on E 0—the Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI). EDDI measures the signal of drought through the response of E 0 to surface drying anomalies that result from two distinct land surface–atmosphere interactions: 1) a complementary relationship between E 0 and ET that develops under moisture limitations at the land surface, leading to ET declining and increasing E 0, as in sustained droughts, and 2) parallel ET and E 0 increases arising from increased energy availability that lead to surface moisture limitations, as in flash droughts. To calculate EDDI from E 0, a long-term, daily reanalysis of reference ET estimated from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standardized reference ET equation using radiation and meteorological variables from the North American Land Data Assimilation System phase 2 (NLDAS-2) is used. EDDI is obtained by deriving empirical probabilities of aggregated E 0 depths relative to their climatologic means across a user-specific time period and normalizing these probabilities. Positive EDDI values then indicate drier-than-normal conditions and the potential for drought. EDDI is a physically based, multiscalar drought index that that can serve as an indicator of both flash and sustained droughts, in some hydroclimates offering early warning relative to current operational drought indices. The performance of EDDI is assessed against other commonly used drought metrics across CONUS in .

Full access
Christine M. Albano
,
John T. Abatzoglou
,
Daniel J. McEvoy
,
Justin L. Huntington
,
Charles G. Morton
,
Michael D. Dettinger
, and
Thomas J. Ott

Abstract

Increased atmospheric evaporative demand has important implications for humans and ecosystems in water-scarce lands. While temperature plays a significant role in driving evaporative demand and its trend, other climate variables are also influential and their contributions to recent trends in evaporative demand are unknown. We address this gap with an assessment of recent (1980–2020) trends in annual reference evapotranspiration (ETo) and its drivers across the continental United States based on five gridded datasets. In doing so, we characterize the structural uncertainty of ETo trends and decompose the relative influences of temperature, wind speed, solar radiation, and humidity. Results highlight large and robust changes in ETo across much of the western United States, centered on the Rio Grande region where ETo increased 135–235 mm during 1980–2020. The largest uncertainties in ETo trends are in the central and eastern United States and surrounding the Upper Colorado River. Trend decomposition highlights the strong and widespread influence of temperature, which contributes to 57% of observed ETo trends, on average. ETo increases are mitigated by increases in specific humidity in non-water-limited regions, while small decreases in specific humidity and increases in wind speed and solar radiation magnify ETo increases across the West. Our results show increases in ETo across the West that are already emerging outside the range of variability observed 20–40 years ago. Our results suggest that twenty-first-century land and water managers need to plan for an already increasing influence of evaporative demand on water availability and wildfire risks.

Significance Statement

Increased atmospheric thirst due to climate warming has the potential to decrease water availability and increase wildfire risks in water-scarce regions. Here, we identified how much atmospheric thirst has changed across the continental United States over the past 40 years, what climate variables are driving the change, and how consistent these changes are among five data sources. We found that atmospheric thirst is consistently emerging outside the range experienced in the late twentieth century in some western regions with 57% of the change driven by temperature. Importantly, we demonstrate that increased atmospheric thirst has already become a persistent forcing of western landscapes and water supplies toward drought and will be an essential consideration for land and water management planning going forward.

Open access