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A multiscalar global evaluation of the impact of ENSO on droughts

AuthorsVicente Serrano, Sergio M. CSIC ORCID ; López-Moreno, Juan I. CSIC ORCID ; Gimeno, Luis; Nieto, Raquel; Morán-Tejeda, Enrique CSIC ORCID CVN; Lorenzo-Lacruz, Jorge CSIC ORCID; Beguería, Santiago CSIC ORCID ; Azorín-Molina, César CSIC ORCID
KeywordsStandardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index
climatic change
Atmospheric circulation
Southern Oscillation
El Niño
La Niña
Issue DateOct-2011
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
CitationVicente‐Serrano SM, López‐Moreno JI, Gimeno L, Nieto R, Morán‐Tejeda E, Lorenzo‐Lacruz J, Beguería S, Azorin‐Molina C. A multiscalar global evaluation of the impact of ENSO on droughts. Journal of geophysical research atmospheres 116: D20109 (2011)
AbstractIn this study we analyzed the influence of the El Niño‐Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon on drought severity at the global scale. A unique aspect of the analysis is that the ENSO influence was quantified using a multiscalar drought indicator, which allowed assessment of the role of the ENSO phases on drought types affecting various hydrological, agricultural and environmental systems. The study was based on ENSO composites corresponding to El Niño and La Niña phases, which were obtained from the winter El Niño 3.4 index for the period 1901–2006. Drought was identified in a multiscalar way using the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) and the global SPEIbase data set. The study revealed the differing impacts of the El Niño and La Niña phases on drought severity, the time scales of droughts, and the period of the year when the ENSO phases explained drought variability worldwide. In large areas of America and eastern Europe the role of ENSO events were evident at the shortest time scales (1–3 months) at the beginning of events, but in areas of South Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia the effects were more obvious some months later, and at longer time scales. We also identified areas where severe drought conditions are associated with more than 70% of ENSO events. The persistence of the drought signal at longer time‐scales (e.g., 6‐ or 12‐months) is not directly determined by the atmospheric circulation response to the SST anomalies, since the SPEI anomalies will be caused by the cumulative dry conditions in some specific months. Knowledge of how these effects differ as a function of the El Niño and La Niña phases, and how they propagate throughout the drought time scales could aid in the prediction of the expected drought severity associated with the ENSO. Lags detected during the study may help forecasting of dry conditions in some regions up to one year before their occurrence.
Description42 Pag., 13 Fig. The definitive version is available at: http://www.agu.org/journals/jd/
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2011JD016039
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