West-Wide Drought Assessment Using Paleoclimate and Bias-Correction Spatial Disaggregation (BCSD) ... Climate Projections

Project ID: 99
Principal Investigator: Subhrendu Gangopadhyay
Research Topic: Managing Hydrologic Events
Priority Area Assignments: 2012 (Climate Change and Variability Research)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2012
Keywords: drought, pdsi, spi, paleoclimate, climate

Research Question

1. How different are the drought characteristics (intensity, duration or spell lengths, frequency, or wet-dry transitions) estimated from paleoclimate and projected climate information?

2. Are paleohydrologic droughts prologues for future droughts, and why?

3. Using projected climate information, are there differences in drought characteristics using an index that uses both precipitation and temperature such as Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) versus only a precipitation-based index such as Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) at annual time scales?

References used in describing research strategy in the next section:

Cook, E.R., C.A. Woodhouse, C.M. Eakin, D.M. Meko, and D.W. Stahle, 2004. Long-term aridity changes in the Western United States, Science, Vol. 306, No. 5698, pp. 1015-1018, 5 November 2004.

Climate Impacts Group at University of Washington (CIG at UW) URL, http://www.hydro.washington.edu/Lettenmaier/Data/gridded/.

Gangopadhyay S., B.L. Harding, B. Rajagopalan, J.J. Lukas, and T.J. Fulp, 2009. A non-parametric approach for paleohydrologic reconstruction of annual streamflow ensembles. Water Resources Research, 45, W06417, doi:10.1029/2008WR007201.

Reclamation, 2009. Long-term planning hydrology based on various blends of instrumental records, paleoclimate,and projected climate information, 138 pp.

Reclamation, 2011. West-wide climate risk assessments: Bias-corrected and spatially downscaled surface water projections, 122 pp.

Wells N., S. Goddard, and M.J. Hayes, 2004. A Self-Calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index. Journal of Climate, pp. 2335-2351.

Palmer, W.C, 1965. Meteorological Drought. Res. Paper No.45, 58 pp., Dept. of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

Yates, D., S. Gangopadhyay, B. Rajagopalan, and K. Strzepek, 2003. A technique for generating regional climate scenarios using a nearest neighbor algorithm. Water Resources Research, 39(7), 1199, doi: 10.1029/2002WR001769.

Need and Benefit

The proposed research addresses Priority Area 3.05 described in the long-term user needs document: Guidance on how to jointly use the longer-term climate variability from observed records, paleoclimate, and projected climate information when portraying drought and surplus possibilities in planning.

This research will help to develop:

1. An archive of gridded west-wide monthly precipitation and temperature data going back to the year 1400.

2. Address the sensitivity of droughts related to both precipitation and temperature, and only precipitation.

3. Provide hydrologic drought outlook at annual time scales based on BCSD hydrologic projections.

4. Understanding of the similarities and differences between pre-20th century (""paleoperiod""), 20th century and 21st century drought characteristics.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Not Reviewed

The following documents were not reviewed. Statements made in these documents are those of the authors. The findings have not been verified.

Drought Assessment Using Paleoclimate and BCSD-CMIP3 Climate Projections (final, PDF, 324KB)
By Subhrendu Gangopadhyay and Tom Pruitt
Report completed on May 30, 2014

The research goal was to analyze drought intensity, duration, and frequency at the west-wide scale based on a nonparametric reconstruction of streamflow at Lees Ferry for the Upper Colorado River Basin [UCRB; Gangopadhyay et al., 2009]. This nonparametric reconstruction developed a set of "similar" years from the period 1906-1997 for the paleo-period water years, 1400-1905. However, this set of similar years was not applicable west-wide and analysis was restricted to the UCRB.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20