In a warming climate, periods with lower than average precipitation will increase in frequency and intensity. During such periods, known as meteorological droughts, the decline in annual runoff may be proportionally larger than the corresponding decline in precipitation. Reasons behind this exacerbation of runoff deficit during dry periods remain largely unknown, and this challenges the predictability of when this exacerbation will occur in the future and how intense it will be. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that runoff deficit exacerbation during droughts is a common feature across climates, driven by evaporation enhancement. We relied on multidecadal records of streamflow and precipitation for more than 200 catchment areas across various European climates, which distinctively show the emergence of similar periods of exacerbated runoff deficit identified in previous studies, i.e. runoff deficit on the order of -20 % to -40 % less than what expected from precipitation deficits. The magnitude of this exacerbation is two to three times larger for basins located in dry regions than for basins in wet regions, and is qualitatively correlated with an increase in annual evaporation during droughts, in the order of +11 % and +33 % over basins characterized by energy-limited and water-limited evaporation regimes, respectively. Thus, enhanced atmospheric and vegetation demand for moisture during dry periods induces a nonlinear precipitation-runoff relationship for low-flow regimes, which results in an unexpectedly large decrease in runoff during periods of already low water availability. Forecasting onset, magnitude, and duration of these drops in runoff have paramount societal and ecological implications, especially in a warming climate, given their supporting role for safeguarding water, food, and energy. The outcome that water basins are prone to this exacerbation of runoff deficit for various climates and evaporation regimes makes further understanding of its patterns of predictability an urgent priority for water-resource planning and management in a warming and drier climate.

Evaporation enhancement drives the European water-budget deficit during multi-year droughts / Christian Massari; Francesco Avanzi; Giulia Bruno; Simone Gabellani; Daniele Penna; Stefania Camici. - In: HYDROLOGY AND EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCES. - ISSN 1027-5606. - ELETTRONICO. - 26:(2022), pp. 1527-1543. [10.5194/hess-26-1527-2022]

Evaporation enhancement drives the European water-budget deficit during multi-year droughts

Daniele Penna;
2022

Abstract

In a warming climate, periods with lower than average precipitation will increase in frequency and intensity. During such periods, known as meteorological droughts, the decline in annual runoff may be proportionally larger than the corresponding decline in precipitation. Reasons behind this exacerbation of runoff deficit during dry periods remain largely unknown, and this challenges the predictability of when this exacerbation will occur in the future and how intense it will be. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that runoff deficit exacerbation during droughts is a common feature across climates, driven by evaporation enhancement. We relied on multidecadal records of streamflow and precipitation for more than 200 catchment areas across various European climates, which distinctively show the emergence of similar periods of exacerbated runoff deficit identified in previous studies, i.e. runoff deficit on the order of -20 % to -40 % less than what expected from precipitation deficits. The magnitude of this exacerbation is two to three times larger for basins located in dry regions than for basins in wet regions, and is qualitatively correlated with an increase in annual evaporation during droughts, in the order of +11 % and +33 % over basins characterized by energy-limited and water-limited evaporation regimes, respectively. Thus, enhanced atmospheric and vegetation demand for moisture during dry periods induces a nonlinear precipitation-runoff relationship for low-flow regimes, which results in an unexpectedly large decrease in runoff during periods of already low water availability. Forecasting onset, magnitude, and duration of these drops in runoff have paramount societal and ecological implications, especially in a warming climate, given their supporting role for safeguarding water, food, and energy. The outcome that water basins are prone to this exacerbation of runoff deficit for various climates and evaporation regimes makes further understanding of its patterns of predictability an urgent priority for water-resource planning and management in a warming and drier climate.
2022
26
1527
1543
Christian Massari; Francesco Avanzi; Giulia Bruno; Simone Gabellani; Daniele Penna; Stefania Camici
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
061_Massari_etal_2022_Evaporation_runoff_deficit_multi-year_droughts.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Pdf editoriale (Version of record)
Licenza: Open Access
Dimensione 1.21 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.21 MB Adobe PDF

I documenti in FLORE sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificatore per citare o creare un link a questa risorsa: https://hdl.handle.net/2158/1281422
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 20
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 19
social impact