The complex influence of ENSO on droughts in Ecuador
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In this study, we analyzed the influence of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the spatio-temporal variability of droughts in Ecuador for a 48-year period (1965–2012). Droughts were quantified from 22 high-quality and homogenized time series of precipitation and air temperature by means of the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index. In addition, the propagation of two different ENSO indices (El Niño 3.4 and El Niño 1 + 2 indices) and other atmospheric circulation processes (e.g., vertical velocity) on different time-scales of drought severity were investigated. The results showed a very complex influence of ENSO on drought behavior across Ecuador, with two regional patterns in the evolution of droughts: (1) the Andean chain with no changes in drought severity, and (2) the Western plains with less severe and frequent droughts. We also detected that drought variability in the Andes mountains is explained by the El Niño 3.4 index [sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the central Pacific], whereas the Western plains are much more driven by El Niño 1 + 2 index (SST anomalies in the eastern Pacific). Moreover, it was also observed that El Niño and La Niña phases enhance droughts in the Andes and Western plains regions, respectively. The results of this work could be crucial for predicting and monitoring drought variability and intensity in Ecuador.
KeywordsStandardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) Drought Ecuador El Niño 3.4 El Niño 1 + 2
This work was supported by the EPhysLab (UVIGO-CSIC Associated Unit) and the research projects I-COOP H2O 2013CD0006: “Test multisectorial y actividades demostrativa sobre el potencial desarrollo de sistemas de monitorización de sequías en tiempo real en la región del oeste de Sudamérica” financed by the Spanish National Research Council, CGL2011-27574-CO2-02, CGL2014-52135-C03-01 and Red de variabilidad y cambio climático RECLIM (CGL2014-517221-REDT), financed by the Spanish Commission of Science and Technology and FEDER, and “LIFE12 ENV/ES/000536-Demonstration and validation of innovative methodology for regional climate change adaptation in the Mediterranean area (LIFE MEDACC)” financed by the LIFE programme of the European Commission. Cesar Azorin-Molina was supported by the JCI-2011-10263 Grant. Arturo Sanchez-Lorenzo was supported by the JCI-2012-12508 Grant. Miquel Tomas-Burguera was supported by a doctoral grant by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and Natalia Martin-Hernandez was supported by a doctoral grant by the Aragón Regional Government. E. Aguilar was funded by the Grant CCI-009-ATN/OC-12439-RG-2012 from the Banco Iberoamericano de Desarrollo.
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