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    Historical droughts in Irish catchments 1767–2016

    O'Connor, Paul and Murphy, Conor and Matthews, Tom and Wilby, Robert L. (2022) Historical droughts in Irish catchments 1767–2016. International Journal of Climatology, 42 (11). pp. 5442-5466. ISSN 0899-8418

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    Recent prolonged dry periods in summer 2018 and spring 2020 have reawakened interest in drought in Ireland, prompting questions regarding historical drought occurrence and potential long-term risks. Employing 250 years of monthly precipitation and flow reconstructions, we investigate historical drought in Irish catchments evaluating the characteristics (number of events, duration, and deficits) of moderate, severe, and extreme droughts as well as the propagation of meteorological to hydrological drought. Using standardized indices, we identify three distinct catchment types. Cluster 1 catchments, located in the wetter northwest are characterized by small areas, low groundwater storage, and the highest frequency of hydrological drought relative to other catchments. Cluster 3 catchments, located in the drier east and southeast have larger areas, greater groundwater storage, the highest frequency of meteorological drought but the least hydrological droughts. However, once established, droughts in Cluster 3 tend to be more persistent with large accumulated deficits. Cluster 2 catchments, located in the southwest and west, are intermediate to Clusters 1 and 3, with hydrological droughts typically of shorter durations, reduced accumulated deficits but greater mean deficits. The most extreme droughts based on accumulated deficits across all catchments occurred in 1803–1806, 1854–1859, 1933–1935, 1944–1945, 1953–1954, and 1975–1977. Although not as severe, droughts in 1887–1888, 1891–1894, and 1971–1974 also appear as significant extremes. Changes in drought characteristics reveal a complex picture with the direction, magnitude, and significance of trends dependent on the accumulation period used to define drought, the period of record analysed, and the reference period used to standardize indices. Of particular note is a tendency towards shorter, more intense meteorological and hydrological droughts. Our findings offer important insight for drought and water management in Ireland given the paucity of extreme droughts in short observed river flow records.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Historical droughts; Irish catchments; 1767–2016;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, ICARUS
    Item ID: 17497
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Conor Murphy
    Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2023 15:39
    Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Climatology
    Publisher: Wiley
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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