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Article

Historical and Projected Changes to the Stages and Other Characteristics of Severe Canadian Prairie Droughts

1
Watershed Hydrology and Ecology Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Saskatoon, SK S7N 3H5, Canada
2
Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada
3
Department of Geography and Planning, University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatoon, SK S7K 1M2, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(12), 3370; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123370
Received: 26 October 2020 / Revised: 24 November 2020 / Accepted: 26 November 2020 / Published: 1 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past and Future Trends and Variability in Hydro-Climatic Processes)
Large-area, long-duration droughts are among Canada’s costliest natural disasters. A particularly vulnerable region includes the Canadian Prairies where droughts have, and are projected to continue to have, major impacts. However, individual droughts often differ in their stages such as onset, growth, persistence, retreat, and duration. Using the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index, this study assesses historical and projected future changes to the stages and other characteristics of severe drought occurrence across the agricultural region of the Canadian Prairies. Ten severe droughts occurred during the 1900–2014 period with each having unique temporal and spatial characteristics. Projected changes from 29 global climate models (GCMs) with three representative concentration pathways reveal an increase in severe drought occurrence, particularly toward the end of this century with a high emissions scenario. For the most part, the overall duration and intensity of future severe drought conditions is projected to increase mainly due to longer persistence stages, while growth and retreat stages are generally shorter. Considerable variability exists among individual GCM projections, including their ability to simulate observed severe drought characteristics. This study has increased understanding in potential future changes to a little studied aspect of droughts, namely, their stages and associated characteristics. This knowledge can aid in developing future adaptation strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: severe drought; Canadian Prairies; climate change; drought stages; drought characteristics; drought risks severe drought; Canadian Prairies; climate change; drought stages; drought characteristics; drought risks
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bonsal, B.; Liu, Z.; Wheaton, E.; Stewart, R. Historical and Projected Changes to the Stages and Other Characteristics of Severe Canadian Prairie Droughts. Water 2020, 12, 3370. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123370

AMA Style

Bonsal B, Liu Z, Wheaton E, Stewart R. Historical and Projected Changes to the Stages and Other Characteristics of Severe Canadian Prairie Droughts. Water. 2020; 12(12):3370. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123370

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bonsal, Barrie; Liu, Zhuo; Wheaton, Elaine; Stewart, Ronald. 2020. "Historical and Projected Changes to the Stages and Other Characteristics of Severe Canadian Prairie Droughts" Water 12, no. 12: 3370. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123370

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