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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-216
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-216
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 Jul 2019

Research article | 08 Jul 2019

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

Extremeness of recent drought events in Switzerland: dependence on variable and return period choice

Manuela I. Brunner, Katharina Liechti, and Massimiliano Zappa Manuela I. Brunner et al.
  • Hydrology and Mass Movements, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL

Abstract. The 2018 drought event had severe ecological, economic, and social impacts. How extreme was it in Switzerland? We addressed this question by looking at different types of drought, including meteorological, hydrological, agricultural, and groundwater drought, and at the two characteristics deficit and deficit duration. The analysis consisted of three main steps: (1) event identification using a threshold-level approach, (2) drought frequency analysis, and (3) comparison of the 2018 event to the severe 2003 and 2015 events. In Step 2 the variables precipitation, discharge, soil moisture, and low-flow storage were first considered separately in a univariate frequency analysis; pairs of variables were then investigated jointly in a bivariate frequency analysis using a copula model for expressing the dependence between the two variables under consideration. Our results show that the 2018 event was especially severe in north-eastern Switzerland in terms of soil moisture, with return periods locally exceeding 100 years. Slightly longer return periods were estimated when discharge and soil moisture deficits were considered together. The return period estimates depended on the region, variable, and return period considered. A single answer to the question of how extreme the 2018 drought event was in Switzerland is therefore not possible – it rather depends on the processes one is interested in.

Manuela I. Brunner et al.
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Manuela I. Brunner et al.
Data sets

Hydro-meteorological simulations for the period 1981-2018 for Switzerland M. Zappa and M. Brunner https://doi.org/10.16904/envidat.76

Manuela I. Brunner et al.
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Short summary
The 2018 drought event had severe ecological, economic, and social impacts. How extreme was it in Switzerland? We addressed this question by looking at different types of drought, including meteorological, hydrological, agricultural, and groundwater drought, and at the two characteristics deficit and deficit duration. The return period estimates depended on the region, variable, and return period considered.
The 2018 drought event had severe ecological, economic, and social impacts. How extreme was it...
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