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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-356
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-356
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Nov 2018

Research article | 27 Nov 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

A high-resolution spatial ass essment of the impacts of drought variability on vegetation activity in Spain from 1981 to 2015

Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano1, Cesar Azorin-Molina2, Marina Peña-Gallardo1, Miquel Tomas-Burguera3, Fernando Domínguez-Castro1, Natalia Martin-Hernández1, Santiago Beguería3, Ahmed El Kenawy4, Iván Noguera1, and Mónica García5 Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano et al.
  • 1Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología, Spanish National Research Council (IPE-CSIC), Campus de Aula Dei, P.O. Box 13034, E-50059 Zaragoza, Spain
  • 2Regional Climate Group, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 3Estación Experimental de Aula Dei, Spanish National Research Council (EEAD-CSIC), Zaragoza, Spain
  • 4Department of Geography, Mansoura University, 35516, Mansoura, Egypt
  • 5Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark

Abstract. Drought is a major driver of vegetation activity in Spain, with significant impacts on crop yield, forest growth, and the occurrence of forest fires. Nonetheless, the sensitivity of vegetation to drought conditions differs largely amongst vegetation types and climates. We used a high-resolution (1.1km) spatial dataset of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the whole Spain spanning the period from 1981 to 2015, combined with a another newly developed dataset of the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) to assess the sensitivity of vegetation types to drought across Spain. In specific, this study explores the drought time scales at which vegetation activity shows its highest response to drought severity at different moments of the year. Results demonstrate that − over large areas of Spain − vegetation activity is controlled largely by the interannual variability of drought. More than 90% of the land areas exhibited statistically significant positive correlations between the NDVI and the SPEI during dry summers (JJA). Nevertheless, there are some considerable spatio-temporal variations, which can be linked to differences in land cover and aridity conditions. In comparison to other climatic regions across Spain, results indicate that vegetation types located in arid regions showed the strongest response to drought. Importantly, this study stresses that the time scale at which drought is assessed is a dominant factor in understanding the different responses of vegetation activity to drought.

Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano et al.
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Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano et al.
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Short summary
Drought is a major driver of vegetation activity in Spain. Here we used a high-resolution remote sensing dataset spanning the period from 1981 to 2015 to assess the sensitivity of vegetation 23 types to drought across Spain. Results demonstrate that vegetation activity is controlled largely by the interannual variability of drought. Nevertheless, there are some considerable spatio-temporal variations, which can be linked to differences in land cover and aridity conditions.
Drought is a major driver of vegetation activity in Spain. Here we used a high-resolution remote...
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