A multimodel assessment of future climatological droughts in the United Kingdom


  • This article was published online on 11 March 2009. Some errors were subsequently identified. This notice is included in the online and print versions to indicate that both have been corrected 18 March 2009.


This paper presents a detailed assessment of future rainfall drought patterns over the United Kingdom. Previously developed bias-corrected high-resolution gridded precipitation time series are aggregated to the scale relevant for water resources management, in order to provide 21st-century time series for 183 hydrologic areas, as computed by six General Circulation Models (GCMs) under two emissions scenarios. The control run data are used as a ‘learning time series’ to compute the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) at four different time scales. SPI values for three 30-year future time slices are computed with respect to these learning time series in order to assess the changes in drought frequency. Multimodel results under the A2 scenario show a dramatic increase in the frequency of short-term extreme drought class for most of the country. A decrease of long-term droughts is expected in Scotland, due to the projected increase in winter precipitation. The analysis for two catchment case studies also showed that changes under the B2 scenario are generally consistent with those of the A2 scenario, with a reduced magnitude in changes. The overall increase with time in the spread of individual GCM results demonstrates the utility of multimodel statistics when assessing the uncertainty in future drought indices to be used in long-term water resources planning. Copyright © 2009 Royal Meteorological Society