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Duration: 10/2019 - 12/2022

PI: Oldrich Rakovec (CHS)

co-PI: Rohini Kumar (CHS)


 Duration: 01/2019 - 12/2021

 PI: Martin Hanel (CULS)

 co-PI: Yannis Markonis (CULS)

Project team:

  • Vittal Hari, Jignesh Shah, Rohini Kumar, Stephan Thober, Luis Samaniego, and Oldrich Rakovec
  • Yannis Markonis, Sadaf Rani, Jan Kysely, Petr Maca, Vojtech Moravec and Martin Hanel

About project:

This bilateral/joint German (DFG) - Czech (GACR) project XEROS (meaning 'dry' in Greek) represents a unique opportunity of bringing together two research groups of complementary scientific knowledge. The German-based team (CHS @UFZ) focus on understanding and modelling the complex interaction of land-surface hydrologic processes and their spatial and temporal variability at meso- to macro-scales. The Czech-based team (@ CULS) have strong scientific background in statistical analysis of hydrologic and climate variability.

Project news/outreach:

[April 2022] Our new paper on "Increasing footprint of climate warming on flash droughts occurrence in Europe" was published in Environmental Research Letters. We focused on the rapid changes in the spatio-temporal anomalies of root zone soil moisture as it integrates the crucial components of the water and energy coupling. We used the recently released ERA5 reanalysis dataset, which took into account land-atmosphere feedback (https://cds.climate.copernicus.eu), to systematically investigate short-term (pentad) changes in soil moisture anomalies, characterising the flash drought events. We then examined the role of driving meteorological conditions (e.g. precipitation and temperature anomalies) promoting and sustaining the flash drought events, including the co-occurrence of 'warmer and drier' and 'colder and drier' conditions.

Altmetric summary:

[April 2022] Our new paper on "The 2018–2020 Multi-Year Drought Sets a New Benchmark in Europe" was published in Earth's Future. This manuscript demonstrates that the 2018–2020 multi-year drought event constitutes a new benchmark in Europe, with an unprecedented level of intensity over the past 250 years. What makes this event truly exceptional compared with past events is its temperature anomaly reaching +2.8 K. This finding provides new evidence that the ongoing global warming exacerbates current drought events. The key message of this study is that the projected future events across the European continent will have a comparable intensity as the 2018–2020 drought but exhibit considerably longer durations than any of those observed during the last 250 years. Our analysis also shows that these exceptional temperature-enhanced droughts significantly negatively impact commodity crops across Europe. UFZ press-release

Altmetric summary:

Selected news articles: The Guardian, Deutschlandfunk, phys.org, MDR, EurekAlert, ZDF, Berliner Zeitung, SciencePost, Arte TV

[March 2021] Our new paper on "Europe under multi-year droughts: how severe was the 2014–2018 drought period?" was published in Environmental Research Letters. We demonstrate that when the multi-year 2014–2018 period is considered, its soil moisture drought severity is exceptional in a 253 year period, especially for Central Europe

Altmetric summary:

[February 2021] Our new paper on "The rise of compound warm-season droughts in Europe" was published in Science Advances. We analysed drought typology to assess the fluctuations of European drought seasonality and duration since 1900. UFZ press-release

Altmetric summary:

[December 2020] Our paper on "On the curious case of the recent decade, mid-spring precipitation deficit in central Europe" was published in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science. UFZ press-release AWI press-release

Altmetric summary:

[August 2020] Our paper on "Increased future occurrences of the exceptional 2018–2019 Central European drought under global warming" was published in Scientific reports. Nature Research highlights. UFZ press-release.

Altmetric summary:

Selected news articles: The Guardian, Deutsche Welle, The Daily Mail, FOCUS Online, MDR, ORF, France24, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, National Geographic

 Example of soil moisture deficit Example of soil moisture deficit

Project objectives

The overarching goal of this project is to address the following research questions:

  1. What is the extremity of the recent European drought events compared to the 500-year benchmark period?
  2. How does the space-time variability of drought evolution change over time?
  3. How do the large-scale atmospheric characteristics, responsible to generate land-surface droughts, co-evolve? How can we enhance the reliability of future hydro-climatic projections?
The project objectives are separated into three explicit parts, moving from past to future. The first step involves the simulation experiment and the development of the data product (past), the second its analysis to address currently open research questions (present) and the third the utilisation of the analysis results to hydrologic and climatic applications (future).

Work packages

  • WP-1a: Historical reconstruction of climate forcing data to allow hydrologic simulations at finer spatial and temporal resolution. [led by the CULS team]
  • WP-1b: Multi-model hydrologic simulations of key hydrologic variables [led by the UFZ team]
  • WP-2a: Historical characterisation of large scale drought events [led jointly by the UFZ and CULS teams].
  • WP-2b: Improved understanding on genesis of the large scale drought events [led by the CULS team]
  • WP-3: Enhancing the reliability of future hydro-climatic projections [led by the UFZ team]