Seneviratne, Sonia I.
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
Drought constitutes a significant natural hazard in Europe, impacting societies and ecosystems across the continent. Climate model simulations with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations project increased drought risk in southern Europe, and on the other hand decreased drought risk in the north. Observed changes in water balance components and drought indicators resemble the projected pattern. However, assessments of possible causes of the reported regional changes have so far been inconclusive. Here we investigate whether anthropogenic emissions have altered past and present meteorological (precipitation) drought risk. For doing so we first estimate the magnitude of 20 year return period drought years that would occur without anthropogenic effects on the climate. Subsequently we quantify to which degree the occurrence probability, i.e. the risk, of these years has changed if anthropogenic climate change is accounted for. Both an observational and a climate model-based assessment suggest that it is >95% likely that human emissions have increased the probability of drought years in the Mediterranean, whereas it is >95% likely that the probability of dry years has decreased in northern Europe. In central Europe the evidence is inconclusive. The results highlight that anthropogenic climate change has already increased drought risk in southern Europe, stressing the need to develop efficient mitigation measures. Show more
Journal / seriesEnvironmental Research Letters
Pages / Article No.
PublisherInstitute of Physics
SubjectDrought; Detection and attribution; Europe; Precipitation; Risk; Climate change
Organisational unit03778 - Seneviratne, Sonia / Seneviratne, Sonia
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