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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-485
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 02 Oct 2018

Research article | 02 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Unravelling the impacts of precipitation, temperature and land-cover change for extreme drought over the North American High Plains

Annette Hein1, Laura Condon2, and Reed Maxwell1 Annette Hein et al.
  • 1Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, 80401, USA
  • 2Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, 85721, USA

Abstract. Drought is a natural disaster that may become more common in the future under climate change. It involves changes to temperature, precipitation, and/or land cover, but the relative contributions of each of these factors to overall drought severity is not clear. Here we apply a high-resolution integrated hydrologic model of the High Plains to explore the individual importance of each of these factors and the feedbacks between them. The model was constructed using ParFlow-CLM, which represents surface and subsurface processes in detail with physically based equations. Numerical experiments were run to perturb vegetation, precipitation and temperature separately and in combination. Results show that decreased precipitation caused larger anomalies in evapotranspiration, soil moisture, stream flow and water table levels than did increased temperature or disturbed land cover. However, these factors are not linearly additive when applied in combination; some effects of multi-factor runs came from interactions between temperature, precipitation and land cover. Spatial scale was important in characterizing impacts, as unpredictable and nonlinear impacts at small scales aggregate to predictable, linear large scale behaviour.

Annette Hein et al.
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Model data for Unravelling the impacts of precipitation, temperature and land cover changes for extreme drought over the North American High Plains A. Hein, L. Condon, and R. Maxwell https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/6PJDLG

Annette Hein et al.
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Short summary
Drought is a natural disaster that can result from changes to temperature, precipitation, and/or vegetation. Here we apply a high-resolution computer model to explore the relative importance of each factor on the North American High Plains, one of the most important agricultural regions of the USA. Decreased precipitation caused larger changes in hydrologic variables (evapotranspiration, soil moisture, stream flow and water table levels) than did increased temperature or disturbed vegetation.
Drought is a natural disaster that can result from changes to temperature, precipitation, and/or...
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