World map with dots showing the center locations of landfalling droughts that occurred between 1979 and 2018
The dots in this map show the center locations of landfalling droughts that occurred between 1979 and 2018. Landfalling droughts develop over the ocean and cause droughts over land. Credit: Herrera‐Estrada and Diffenbaugh [2020], Figure 3a
Source: Water Resources Research

Droughts can have detrimental impacts on water, food, and energy security, as well as water-dependent ecosystems. Understanding how and why droughts develop is therefore of seminal importance.

Herrera‐Estrada and Diffenbaugh [2020] identify areas with anomalously low values of “precipitation minus evaporation” over the ocean and follow their course with methods previously used for tracking cyclones and atmospheric rivers. They find that landfalling droughts – droughts that develop over the ocean and end upon land – are significantly larger and more intense than droughts that develop over land. They also link the genesis of these landfalling droughts to large weather patterns over the ocean, which opens up the potential to improve seasonal‐scale prediction of extreme droughts over land.

Citation: Herrera‐Estrada, J. E., Diffenbaugh, N. S. [2020]. Landfalling droughts: Global tracking of moisture deficits from the oceans onto land. Water Resources Research, 56, e2019WR026877.

—Marc F. P. Bierkens, Editor, Water Resources Research

Text © 2020. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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