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Keywords:

  • drought;
  • generalized linear model (GLM);
  • autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA);
  • extremes;
  • persistence;
  • forecast

Abstract

Under future climate scenarios, possible changes of drought patterns pose new challenges for water resources management. For quantifying and qualifying drought characteristics in the UK, the drought severity indices of six catchments are investigated and modelled by two stochastic methods: autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models and the generalized linear model (GLM) approach. From the ARIMA models, autocorrelation structures are first identified for the drought index series, and the unexplained variance of the series is used to establish empirical relationships between drought and climate variables. Based on the ARIMA results, mean sea level pressure and possibly the North Atlantic Oscillation index are found to be significant climate variables for seasonal drought forecasting. Using the GLM approach, occurrences and amounts of rainfall are simulated with conditioning on climate variables. From the GLM-simulated rainfall for the 1980s and 2080s, the probabilistic characteristics of the drought severity are derived and assessed. Results indicate that the drought pattern in the 2080s is less certain than for the 1961–1990 period, based on the Shannon entropy, but that droughts are expected to be more clustered and intermittent. The 10th and 50th quantiles of drought are likely higher in the 2080s scenarios, but there is no evidence showing the changes in the 90th quantile extreme droughts. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.