, Volume 115, Issue 3-4, pp 563-581
Date: 15 May 2013

Observed spatiotemporal characteristics of drought on various time scales over the Czech Republic

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This paper analyses the observed spatiotemporal characteristics of drought in the Czech Republic during the growing season (April to September) as quantified using the Standardised Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) on various time scales. The SPEI was calculated for various lags (1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months) from monthly records of mean temperature and precipitation totals using a dense network of 184 climatological stations for the period 1961–2010. The characteristics of drought were analysed in terms of the temporal evolution of the SPEI, the frequency distribution and duration of drought at the country level, and for three regions delimited by station altitude. The driest and the wettest years during the growing season were identified. The frequency distribution of the SPEI values for seven drought category classes (in per cent) indicates that normal moisture conditions represent approximately 65 % of the total SPEI values for all time scales in all three regions, whereas moderate drought and moderate wet conditions are almost equally distributed around 10.5 %. Differences in extremely dry conditions (5 %) compared with extremely wet conditions (1.5 %) were observed with increasing SPEI time scales. The results of the non-parametric Mann–Kendall trend test applied to the SPEI series indicate prevailing negative trends (drought) at the majority of the stations. The percentage of stations displaying a significant negative trend for the 90, 95, 99, and 99.9 % confidence levels is approximately 40 %. An Empirical Orthogonal Functions (EOF) analysis was used to identify the principal patterns of variability of the SPEI during the growing season that accounted for the highest amount of statistical variance. The variance explained by the leading EOF range 66 to 56 %, whereas for EOF2 and EOF3, the value is between 7 and 11 % and between 4 and 7 %, respectively, for the SPEI is calculated for 1- to 24-month lags.