A comparative assessment of projected meteorological and hydrological droughts: Elucidating the role of temperature

Ali Ahmadalipour*, Hamid Moradkhani, Mehmet C. Demirel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


The changing climate and the associated future increases in temperature are expected to have impacts on drought characteristics and hydrologic cycle. This paper investigates the projected changes in spatiotemporal characteristics of droughts and their future attributes over the Willamette River Basin (WRB) in the Pacific Northwest U.S. The analysis is performed using two subsets of downscaled CMIP5 global climate models (GCMs) each consisting of 10 models from two future scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) for 30 years of historical period (1970–1999) and 90 years of future projections (2010–2099). Hydrologic modeling is conducted using the Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) as a robust distributed hydrologic model with lower computational cost compared to other models. Meteorological and hydrological droughts are studied using three drought indices (i.e. Standardized Precipitation Index, Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index, Standardized Streamflow Index). Results reveal that the intensity and duration of hydrological droughts are expected to increase over the WRB, albeit the annual precipitation is expected to increase. On the other hand, the intensity of meteorological droughts do not indicate an aggravation for most cases. We explore the changes of hydrometeolorogical variables over the basin in order to understand the causes for such differences and to discover the controlling factors of drought. Furthermore, the uncertainty of projections are quantified for model, scenario, and downscaling uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-797
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


The authors are thankful for the financial support provided by NOAA-MAPP program , grant NA140AR4310234 .

FundersFunder number


    • Drought
    • PRMS
    • SPEI-PM
    • SPI
    • SSI
    • Willamette


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