The extreme drought episode of August 2011-May 2012: A scenario for future droughts in Central Europe?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Pavel Zahradníček1,2, Miroslav Trnka1,3, Rudolf Brázdil1,4, Martin Mozny2, Petr Stepanek1,2, Petr Hlavinka1,3, Antonín Malý2 and Martin Dubrovsky5, (1)Organization Not Listed, Washington, DC, United States, (2)Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Brno, Czech Republic, (3)Mendel University, Department of Agrosystems and Bioclimatology, Brno, Czech Republic, (4)Masaryk University, Institute of Geography, Brno, Czech Republic, (5)Institute of Atmospheric Physics ACSR, Praha 4, Czech Republic
The weather conditions from August 2011 to May 2012 produced an extreme drought in the eastern Czech Republic (Moravia), whereas the patterns were nearly normal in its western region (Bohemia). The Southern and Central Moravia regions, which represent the most important agricultural areas, were most affected by the drought. The precipitation totals for the studied period were 50% to 70% of the long-term mean, which was calculated for 1961–2000. In autumn 2011, the total precipitation accounted for 10% to 30% of the long-term mean for most of Moravia, increasing to 30% to 50% in spring 2012. Moreover, 7.5% of the Czech Republic experienced a 100-year drought; 20% of the country experienced a 20-year drought. According to the Palmer Drought Severity Index, the 2012 drought was classified as the worst in the past 130 years. The drought patterns were related to the prevailing high-pressure systems over Central Europe and the occurrence of weather types with different precipitation amounts in Bohemia and Moravia. The most substantial drought effects occurred in the agricultural sector. A decrease in cereal yields was observed in the analyzed production areas in Moravia, which was unprecedented in the past 52 years. Moreover, winter crops were affected more than spring crops. An increased risk of fire occurred due to the drought conditions; the largest forest fire in the past 15 years was recorded during this period. Furthermore, signs of hydrological drought were also reported in rivers. The 2011–2012 drought was compared with the significant droughts in 2000, 2003 and 2007. Austria and Slovakia, which neighbor the Czech Republic, experienced a similar drought. This drought analysis can be used as a scenario for future droughts and their impacts in Central Europe due to the global warming projected by GCMs.


This study was made possible by the generous support of the “Establishment of International Scientific Team Focused on Drought Research” project (no. OP VK CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0248).