Forecasting the spatial distribution of drought-induced risk

Manuel del Jesus, Justin Sheffield, Antonio Espejo Hermosa, Fernando Méndez Incera, Raúl Medina Santamaría

Tuesday 30 june 2015

8:45 - 9:00h at North America (level 0)

Themes: (T) Extreme events, natural variability and climate change, (ST) Hydrological extremes: floods and droughts

Parallel session: 4I. Extreme events – Flood Drought

Drought is characterized by a water deficit that may manifest across a large range of spatial and temporal scales. Drought may create important socio-economic consequences, many times of catastrophic dimensions. A quantifiable definition of drought is elusive because depending on its impacts, consequences and generation mechanism, different water deficit periods may be identified as a drought by virtue of some definitions but not by others. Droughts are linked to the water cycle and, although a climate change signal may not have emerged yet, they are also intimately linked to climate. In this work we develop an auto-regressive logistic model for drought prediction at different temporal scales that makes use of a spatially explicit framework. Our model allows to include covariates, continuous or categorical, to improve the performance of the auto-regressive component. Our approach makes use of dimensionality reduction (principal component analysis) and classification techniques (K-Means and maximum dissimilarity) to simplify the representation of complex climatic patterns, such as sea surface temperature (SST) and sea level pressure (SLP), while including information on their spatial structure, i.e. considering their spatial patterns. This procedure allows us to include in the analysis multivariate representation of complex climatic phenomena, as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. We also explore the impact of other climate-related variables such as sun spots. The model allows to quantify the uncertainty of the forecasts and can be easily adapted to make predictions under future climatic scenarios. The framework herein presented may be extended to other applications such as flash flood analysis, or risk assessment of natural hazards.