Articles | Volume 10, issue 1
11 Feb 2013
 | 11 Feb 2013

An overview of drought events in the Carpathian Region in 1961–2010

J. Spinoni, T. Antofie, P. Barbosa, Z. Bihari, M. Lakatos, S. Szalai, T. Szentimrey, and J. Vogt

Abstract. The Carpathians and their rich biosphere are considered to be highly vulnerable to climate change. Drought is one of the major climate-related damaging natural phenomena and in Europe it has been occurring with increasing frequency, intensity, and duration in the last decades. Due to climate change, land cover changes, and intensive land use, the Carpathian Region is one of the areas at highest drought risk in Europe. In order to analyze the drought events over the last 50 yr in the area, we used a 1961–2010 daily gridded temperature and precipitation dataset. From this, monthly 0.1° × 0.1° grids of four drought indicators (Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), Reconnaissance Drought Indicator (RDI), and Palfai Aridity/Drought Index (PADI)) have been calculated. SPI, SPEI, and RDI have been computed at different time scales (3, 6, and 12 months), whilst PADI has been computed on an annual basis. The dataset used in this paper has been constructed in the framework of the CARPATCLIM project, run by a consortium of institutions from 9 countries (Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine) with scientific support by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. Temperature and precipitation station data have been collected, quality-checked, completed, homogenized, and interpolated on the 0.1° × 0.1° grid, and drought indicators have been consequently calculated on the grid itself. Monthly and annual series of the cited indicators are presented, together with high-resolution maps and statistical analysis of their correlation. A list of drought events between 1961 and 2010, based on the agreement of the indicators, is presented. We also discuss three case studies: drought in 1990, 2000, and 2003. The drought indicators have been compared both on spatial and temporal scales: it resulted that SPI, SPEI, and RDI are highly comparable, especially over a 12-month accumulation period. SPEI, which includes PET (Potential Evapo-Transpiration) as RDI does, proved to perform best if drought is caused by heat waves, whilst SPI performed best if drought is mainly driven by a rainfall deficit, because SPEI and RDI can be extreme in dry periods. According to PADI, the Carpathian Region has a sufficient natural water supply on average, with some spots that fall into the ''mild dry'' class, and this is also confirmed by the FAO-UNEP aridity index and the Köppen-Geiger climate classification.