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Quantifying Sensitivity to Droughts – an Experimental Modeling Approach : Volume 11, Issue 7 (09/07/2014)

By Staudinger, M.

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Book Id: WPLBN0004012180
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 30
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Quantifying Sensitivity to Droughts – an Experimental Modeling Approach : Volume 11, Issue 7 (09/07/2014)  
Author: Staudinger, M.
Volume: Vol. 11, Issue 7
Language: English
Subject: Science, Hydrology, Earth
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection, Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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Seibert, J., Weiler, M., & Staudinger, M. (2014). Quantifying Sensitivity to Droughts – an Experimental Modeling Approach : Volume 11, Issue 7 (09/07/2014). Retrieved from

Description: Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Meteorological droughts like those in summer 2003 or spring 2011 in Europe are expected to become more frequent in the future. Although the spatial extent of these drought events was large, not all regions were affected in the same way. Many catchments reacted strongly to the meteorological droughts showing low levels of streamflow and groundwater, while others hardly reacted. The extent of the hydrological drought for specific catchments was also different between these two historical events due to different initial conditions and drought propagation processes. This leads to the important question of how to detect and quantify the sensitivity of a catchment to meteorological droughts. To assess this question we designed hydrological model experiments using a conceptual rainfall–runoff model. Two drought scenarios were constructed by selecting precipitation and temperature observations based on certain criteria: one scenario was a modest but constant progression of drying based on sorting the years of observations according to annual precipitation amounts. The other scenario was a more extreme progression of drying based on selecting months from different years, forming a year with the wettest months through to a year with the driest months. Both scenarios retained the typical intra-annual seasonality for the region. The sensitivity of 24 Swiss catchments to these scenarios was evaluated by analyzing the simulated discharge time series and modeled storages. Mean catchment elevation, slope and size were found to be the main controls on the sensitivity of catchment discharge to precipitation. Generally, catchments at higher elevation and with steeper slopes seemed to be less sensitive to meteorological droughts than catchments at lower elevations with less steep slopes.

Quantifying sensitivity to droughts – an experimental modeling approach

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