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Contribution of temperature to Chilean droughts using ensemble climate projections

Zambrano-Bigiarini, Mauricio; Alfieri, Lorenzo; Naumann, Gustavo; Garreaud, René


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    <subfield code="u">Department of Civil Engineering, Universidad de La Frontera, Temuco, Chile</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;Precipitation deficit is traditionally considered as the main driver of drought events, however the evolution of&amp;nbsp;drought conditions is also influenced by other variables such as temperature, wind speed and&amp;nbsp;evapotranspiration. In view of global warming, the effect of rising temperatures may lead to increased socio-economic drought impacts, particularly in vulnerable developing countries. In this work, we used two drought&amp;nbsp;indices to analyze the impacts of precipitation and temperature on the frequency, severity and duration of&lt;br&gt;
Chilean droughts (25&amp;deg;S-56&amp;deg;S) during the XXI century, using multi-model climate projections consistent with&amp;nbsp;the high-end RCP 8.5 scenario.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;&lt;br&gt;
An ensemble of seven global CMIP5 simulations were used to drive the Earth System Model EC-EARTH3-HR&amp;nbsp;v3.1 over the 1976-2100 period, in order to increase the spatial resolution from the original grid to 0.35&amp;deg;. The&amp;nbsp;Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) was used to describe the impact of precipitation on drought conditions,&amp;nbsp;while the Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) was used to assess the effect of&amp;nbsp;temperature -throughout changes in potential evapotranspiration- on drought characteristics at different time&amp;nbsp;scales. Drought indices along with duration, severity and frequency of drought events were computed for a&amp;nbsp;30-year baseline period (1976-2005) and then compared to three 30-year periods representing short, medium&amp;nbsp;and long-term scenarios (2011&amp;ndash;2040, 2041-2070 and 2071&amp;ndash;2100). Indices obtained from climate simulations&amp;nbsp;during the baseline period were compared against the corresponding values derived from ground&amp;nbsp;observations.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;&lt;br&gt;
Results obtained with SPI-12 reveal a progressive decrease in precipitation in Chile, which is consistent&amp;nbsp;through all climate models, though each of them shows a different spatial pattern. Simulations based on&amp;nbsp;SPEI-12 show that the expected increase in evaporative demand (driven by the temperature increase) for the&amp;nbsp;region is likely to exacerbate the severity and duration of drought events. Findings of this work are an&amp;nbsp;important support for timely preparation of drought adaptation and mitigation plans to improve water&lt;br&gt;
management strategies and resilience during the XXI century.&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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