Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-366
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
26 Jul 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
The European 2015 drought from a hydrological perspective
Gregor Laaha1, Tobias Gauster1, Lena M. Tallaksen2, Jean-Philippe Vidal3, Kerstin Stahl4, Christel Prudhomme5,6, Benedikt Heudorfer4, Radek Vlnas7,8, Monica Ionita9, Henny A. J. Van Lanen10, Mary-Jeanne Adler11, Laurie Caillouet3, Claire Delus12, Miriam Fendekova13, Sebastien Gailliez14, Jamie Hannaford5, Daniel Kingston15, Anne F. Van Loon16, Luis Mediero17, Marzena Osuch18, Renata Romanowicz18, Eric Sauquet3, James H. Stagge2, and Wai K. Wong19 1Institute of Applied Statistics and Computing, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
2Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
3Irstea, UR HHLY, Hydrology-Hydraulics Research Unit, Villeurbanne, 69100, France
4Hydrology, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
5Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, UK
6Loughborough University, UK
7Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic
8T.G. Masaryk Water Research Institute, Prague, Czech Republic
9Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven Germany
10Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands
11National Institute of Hydrology and Water Management, Bucharest, Romania
12Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France
13Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
14Service Public de Wallonie, Jambes, Belgium
15University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
16University of Birmingham, UK
17Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
18Institute of Geophysics Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
19Norwegian Water Resources and Ener gy Directorate, Oslo, Norway
Abstract. In 2015 large parts of Europe were affected by a drought. In two companion papers we summarize a collaborative initiative of members of UNESCO’s EURO FRIEND-Water program to perform a timely pan-European assessment of the event. In this second paper, we analyse the event of 2015 relative to the event of 2003 based on streamflow observations. Analyses are based on range of low flow and hydrological drought indices for about 800 records across Europe that were collected in a community effort based on a common protocol. We compare the hydrological footprints of both events with the meteorological footprints presented by Ionita et al. (2016), in order to learn from similarities and differences of both perspectives and to draw conclusions for drought management. Overall, the hydrological drought of 2015 is characterised by a different spatial extent than the drought of 2003. In terms of low flow magnitude, a region around the Czech Republic was most affected with annual low flows that exhibited return intervals of 100 years and more. In terms of deficit volumes, the geographical centre of the event was in the area of Southern Germany where the drought lasted particularly long. A detailed assessment at various spatial and temporal scales showed that the different behaviour in these regions was also a result of diverging wetness preconditions in the catchments. Extreme droughts emerged where antecedent conditions were particularly dry. In regions with wet preconditions, low flow events developed later, and were mostly less severe. The space-time patterns of monthly low flow characteristics show that meteorological and hydrological events spread differently across Europe, and they evolved differently in regard to extent and severity. The results underline that drought is a hazard that leaves different footprints on the various components of the water cycle, on different spatial and temporal scales. The different dynamic development of major hydrometeorological characteristics, temperature and precipitation anomalies versus the streamflow magnitude, duration and deficit volume also determine differences in the impacts of hydrological drought on various water use sectors and on river ecology. For an assessment of drought impacts on water resources, therefore, hydrological data is required in addition to the hydro-meteorological drought indices. Additional efforts with a pan-European dimension need to be undertaken to make timely hydrological assessments more operational in the future.

Citation: Laaha, G., Gauster, T., Tallaksen, L. M., Vidal, J.-P., Stahl, K., Prudhomme, C., Heudorfer, B., Vlnas, R., Ionita, M., Van Lanen, H. A. J., Adler, M.-J., Caillouet, L., Delus, C., Fendekova, M., Gailliez, S., Hannaford, J., Kingston, D., Van Loon, A. F., Mediero, L., Osuch, M., Romanowicz, R., Sauquet, E., Stagge, J. H., and Wong, W. K.: The European 2015 drought from a hydrological perspective, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-366, in review, 2016.
Gregor Laaha et al.
Gregor Laaha et al.
Gregor Laaha et al.

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Short summary
In 2015 large parts of Europe were affected by a drought. In terms of low flow magnitude, a region around the Czech Republic was most affected with annual low flows that exhibited return intervals of 100 years and more. In terms of deficit volumes, the geographical centre of the event was in the area of Southern Germany where the drought lasted particularly long. For an assessment of drought impacts on water resources hydrological data is required in addition to the hydro-meteorological indices.
In 2015 large parts of Europe were affected by a drought. In terms of low flow magnitude, a...
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