A new About Drought briefing note: Drought monitoring and early warning: new developments to meet user needs has been released. The note looks at the monitoring, forecasting and early warning needs for different sectors, the key new tools and strategies for monitoring and forecasting droughts, and highlights the ways that sectors such as water companies, regulatory bodies and the agricultural sector have used these tools so far. The note concludes by presenting applications for potential future uses.
The UK, while typically regarded as a wet country, is vulnerable to drought, particularly in some areas of the south and east. There is, therefore, a need for systems that contribute to robust decision-making relating to drought risk. Such systems need to cater for a diversity of sectoral needs. Based on recent drought research, a new suite of tools and approaches have been developed, leading to some advances in early warning capability in the UK of which the briefing note seeks to highlight.
This is the third of a series of briefs to support improved decision making concerning droughts and water scarcity. Click below to read the briefing note.
A new publication has been released today which explores how our essential groundwater resources are managed during droughts, and against a backdrop of environmental change, what future priorities should be.
The work reports the outputs from a meeting over 50 hydrogeologists from water companies, regulators, consultancies and academia that was held by About Drought in July 2019 in Birmingham. The aim of the meeting was to consider current groundwater drought management practices and identity research needs.
Four key themes are discussed throughout the paper:
Joined up definitions of drought
Improved modelling of groundwater during droughts
Better information sharing
“Managing groundwater supplies subject to drought: perspectives on current status and future priorities from England (UK)” has been published in Hydrogeology Journal and is available to all now.
Experts from the About Drought project have given updates on the recent changeable weather we’ve been seeing in the UK and further afield.
The team at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) released a blog post which focused on the hydrological transformation following the wettest February on record, which soon turned into one of the driest springs on record. Low soil moisture and river flows at the end of May have resulted in impacts on agriculture and the environment, and heightened concerns over water resources over the longer term.
“There is now an increasing risk of reduced crop yields and potential water use restrictions.”
Katie Muchan, Hydrologist at UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Adding to the debate, Professor Len Shaffrey at the University of Reading contributed to a blog post exploring the reasons as to why we are seeing such changeable weather.
The article explores whether the persistent high-pressure “blocking” weather systems which bring clear, dry conditions for many days or weeks, are becoming more frequent. These systems are particularly synonymous with heatwaves and drought in summer and bitterly cold conditions in winter.
Len explains that changes in the Arctic, “might influence the frequency of blocking events”:
“The theories suggest that as the Arctic warms, changes in the strength and position of the northern hemisphere jet stream will allow blocking events to become more frequent.”
Woodland modelling undertaken by Dr Pam Berry and colleagues
at the University of Oxford has explored in the impact of climate change on the
distribution of key woodland species in Great Britain. The resultant datasets
map changes in the drought vulnerability for 12 tree species and for two
periods, the 2030s and the 2080s. Six categories of potential natural
vegetation are also mapped for (i) the present, (ii) the 2030s and (iii) the
2080s. The modelling shows potential changes in leaf area, net primary
productivity and net ecosystem productivity.
explorer interface is in development, which allows users to explore these maps
interactively, including zooming into their particular location, and allows the
user to swipe between two periods for a given location. If you would like to be
included as a beta tester for the explorer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.