Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface Editors' Highlights

The Ocean-Land Connection of Droughts

Around 16 percent of large-scale droughts over land originate above the ocean and these types of droughts are more extensive and severe than droughts that originate over land.

Source: Water Resources Research


By

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. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019WR026877

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

Text © 2020. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Except where otherwise noted, images are subject to copyright. Any reuse without express permission from the copyright owner is prohibited.