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  • Author or Editor: Juan I. López-Moreno x
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Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano, Santiago Beguería, and Juan I. López-Moreno

Abstract

The authors propose a new climatic drought index: the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI). The SPEI is based on precipitation and temperature data, and it has the advantage of combining multiscalar character with the capacity to include the effects of temperature variability on drought assessment. The procedure to calculate the index is detailed and involves a climatic water balance, the accumulation of deficit/surplus at different time scales, and adjustment to a log-logistic probability distribution. Mathematically, the SPEI is similar to the standardized precipitation index (SPI), but it includes the role of temperature. Because the SPEI is based on a water balance, it can be compared to the self-calibrated Palmer drought severity index (sc-PDSI). Time series of the three indices were compared for a set of observatories with different climate characteristics, located in different parts of the world. Under global warming conditions, only the sc-PDSI and SPEI identified an increase in drought severity associated with higher water demand as a result of evapotranspiration. Relative to the sc-PDSI, the SPEI has the advantage of being multiscalar, which is crucial for drought analysis and monitoring.

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Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano, Santiago Beguería, Jorge Lorenzo-Lacruz, Jesús Julio Camarero, Juan I. López-Moreno, Cesar Azorin-Molina, Jesús Revuelto, Enrique Morán-Tejeda, and Arturo Sanchez-Lorenzo

Abstract

In this study, the authors provide a global assessment of the performance of different drought indices for monitoring drought impacts on several hydrological, agricultural, and ecological response variables. For this purpose, they compare the performance of several drought indices [the standardized precipitation index (SPI); four versions of the Palmer drought severity index (PDSI); and the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI)] to predict changes in streamflow, soil moisture, forest growth, and crop yield. The authors found a superior capability of the SPEI and the SPI drought indices, which are calculated on different time scales than the Palmer indices to capture the drought impacts on the aforementioned hydrological, agricultural, and ecological variables. They detected small differences in the comparative performance of the SPI and the SPEI indices, but the SPEI was the drought index that best captured the responses of the assessed variables to drought in summer, the season in which more drought-related impacts are recorded and in which drought monitoring is critical. Hence, the SPEI shows improved capability to identify drought impacts as compared with the SPI. In conclusion, it seems reasonable to recommend the use of the SPEI if the responses of the variables of interest to drought are not known a priori.

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Cesar Azorin-Molina, Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano, Tim R. McVicar, Sonia Jerez, Arturo Sanchez-Lorenzo, Juan-I. López-Moreno, Jesus Revuelto, Ricardo M. Trigo, Joan A. Lopez-Bustins, and Fátima Espírito-Santo

Abstract

Near-surface wind speed trends recorded at 67 land-based stations across Spain and Portugal for 1961–2011, also focusing on the 1979–2008 subperiod, were analyzed. Wind speed series were subjected to quality control, reconstruction, and homogenization using a novel procedure that incorporated the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5)-simulated series as reference. The resultant series show a slight downward trend for both 1961–2011 (−0.016 m s−1 decade−1) and 1979–2008 (−0.010 m s−1 decade−1). However, differences between seasons with declining values in winter and spring, and increasing trends in summer and autumn, were observed. Even though wind stilling affected 77.8% of the stations in winter and 66.7% in spring, only roughly 40% of the declining trends were statistically significant at the p < 0.10 level. On the contrary, increasing trends appeared in 51.9% of the stations in summer and 57.4% in autumn, with also around 40% of the positive trends statistically significant at the p < 0.10 level. In this article, the authors also investigated (i) the possible impact of three atmospheric indices on the observed trends and (ii) the role played by the urbanization growth in the observed decline. An accurate homogenization and assessment of the long-term trends of wind speed is crucial for many fields such as wind energy (e.g., power generation) and agriculture–hydrology (e.g., evaporative demand).

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