Research Progress: Projected Changes of Palmer Drought Severity Index under an RCP8.5 Scenario


In a warming world, the wet and drought of the world may change and it is of vital to estimate this change in the future. In this study, the potential change of drought measured by the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) is projected by using a coupled climate system model under a Representative Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario. The PDSI changes calculated by two potential evapotranspiration algorithms are compared. The study has been published in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters, the lead author is Dr. Zhou Tianjun at LASG and coauthor are master student Hong Tao at LASG.

The algorithm of Thornthwaite equation overestimates the impact of surface temperature on evaporation and leads to an unrealistic increasing of drought frequency. The PM algorithm based on the Penman-Monteith equation is physically reasonably and necessary for   climate change projections. The Flexible Global Ocean-Atmosphere-Land System model, Spectral Version 2 (FGOALS-s2) projects an increasing trend of drought during 2051–2100 in tropical and subtropical areas of North and South America, North Africa, South Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Australian continent. Both the moderate drought (PDSI < –2) and extreme drought (PDSI< –4) show statistically significant increasing trends under an RCP8.5 scenario. The uncertainty in the model projection is also discussed.


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