Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 115, Issue 3–4, pp 563–581 | Cite as

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

  • Vera PotopEmail author
  • Constanţa Boroneanţ
  • Martin Možný
  • Petr Štěpánek
  • Petr Skalák
Original Paper


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.


Standardise Precipitation Index Drought Index Palmer Drought Severity Index Standardise Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index Meteorological Drought 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The research on drought conditions in the Czech Republic was supported by S grant of MSMT CR and projects 6046070901, LD11041, CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0248, CZ.1.07/2.4.00/31.0056, and CZ.1.05/1.1.00/02.0073 (CzechGlobe—Centre for Global Climate Change Impacts Studies, Reg. No.) and National Agency for Agriculture Research project Q191C054.


  1. Alexandersson A (1986) A homogeneity test applied to precipitation data. J Climatol 6:661–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexandersson A (1995) Homogenity testing, multiple breaks and trends. In: Proc. 6th Int. Meeting on Stat. Climatology, Galway, Ireland, pp. 439–441Google Scholar
  3. Barriopedro D, Fischer EM, Luterbacher J, Trigo RM, García-Herrera R (2011) The hot summer of 2010: redrawing the temperature record map of Europe. Science 8:220–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barlow M, Cullen H, Bradfield L (2002) Drought in Central and Southwest Asia: La Nińa, the warm pool, and Indian Ocean precipitation. J Clim 15:697–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beguería S, Vicente-Serrano SM, Angulo M (2010) A multi-scalar global drought data set: the SPEIbase: a new gridded product for the analysis of drought variability and impacts. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 91:1351–1354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beniston M (2004) The 2003 heat wave in Europe: a shape of things to come? An analysis based on Swiss climatological data and model simulations. Geophys Res Lett 31:L02202. doi: 10.1029/2003GL018857 Google Scholar
  7. Bordi I, Fraedrich K, Sutera A (2009) Observed drought and wetness trends in Europe: an update. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 13:1519–1530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brázdil R, Trnka M, Dobrovolný P, Chroma K, Hlavinka P, Žalud Z (2009) Variability of droughts in the Czech Republic, 1881–2006. Theor Appl Climatol 97:297–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bravar L, Kavvas ML (1991) On the physics of drought. I. A conceptual framework. J Hydrol 129:281–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Briffa KR, van der Schrier G, Jones PD (2009) Wet and dry summers in Europe since 1750: evidence of increasing drought. Int J Climatol 29:1894–1905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Busuioc A, Dumitrescu A, Soare E, Orzan A (2007) Summer anomalies in 2007 in the context of extremely hot and dry summers in Romania. Roman J Meteorol 9:1–17Google Scholar
  12. Caloiero T, Coscarelli R, Ferrari E, Mancini M (2011) Trend detection of annual and seasonal rainfall in Calabria (Southern Italy). Int J Climatol 31:44–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cindrić K, Pasarić Z, Gajić-Čapka M (2010) Spatial and temporal analysis of dry spells in Croatia. Theor Appl Climatol 102:171–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Corobov R, Sheridan S, Overcenco A, Terinte N (2010) Air temperature trends and extremes in Chisinau (Moldova) as evidence of climate change. Clim Res 42:247–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chiew FHA, Piechota TC, Dracup JA, McMahon TA (1998) El Nińo Southern Oscillation and Australian rainfall, streamflow and drought—links and potential for forecasting. J Hydrol 204(1–4):138–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dai A (2011a) Drought under global warming: a review. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 2:45–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dai A (2011b) Characteristics and trends in various forms of the Palmer Drought Severity Index during 1900–2008. J Geophys Res 116:D12115. doi: 10.1029/2010JD015541 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dubrovsky M, Svoboda MD, Trnka M, Hayes MJ, Wilhite DA, Zalud Z, Hlavinka P (2008) Application of relative drought indices in assessing climate-change impacts on drought conditions in Czechia. Theor Appl Climatol 96:155–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Easterling DR, Peterson TC (1995) A new method for detecting undocumented discontinuities in climatological time series. Int J Climatol 15:369–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Estrela MJ, Penarrocha D, Millan M (2000) Multi-annual drought episodes in the Mediterranean (Valencia region) from 1950–1996. A spatio-temporal analysis. Int J Climatol 20:1599–1618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fink AH, Brücher T, Krüger A, Leckebusch GC, Pinto JG, Ulbrich U (2004) The 2003 European summer heatwaves and drought: synoptic diagnosis and impact. Weather 59:209–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Girardin MP, Tardif AC (2005) Synoptic-scale atmospheric circulation and boreal Canada summer drought variability of the past three centuries. J Clim 19:1922–1947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hargreaves GL, Samani ZA (1985) Reference crop evapotranspiration from temperature. Appl Eng Agric 1:96–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Heim RR (2002) A review of twentieth-century drought indices used in the United States. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 83(8):1149–1165Google Scholar
  25. Ionita M, Lohmann G, Rimbu N, Chelcea S, Dima M (2012) Interannual to decadal summer drought variability over Europe and its relationship to global sea surface temperature. Clim Dyn 38(1–2):363–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jones PD, Hulme M, Brifta KR, Jones CG, Mitchell JFB, Murphy JB (1996) Summer moisture accumulation over Europe in the Hadley Center general circulation model based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index. Int J Climatol 16(2):155–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kendall MG (1975) Rank correlation methods, 4th edn. Charles Griffin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. Koleva E, Alexandrov V (2008) Drought in the Bulgarian low regions during the 20th century. Theor Appl Climatol 92:113–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Livada I, Assimakopoulos VD (2007) Spatial and temporal analysis of drought in Greece using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI). Theor Appl Climatol 89:143–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lloyd-Hughes B, Saunders MA (2002) A drought climatology for Europe. Int J Climatol 22:1571–1592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lloyd-Hughes B (2012) A spatio-temporal structure-based approach to drought characterization. Int J Climatol 32:406–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Longobardi A, Villani P (2010) Trend analysis of annual and seasonal rainfall time series in the Mediterranean area. Int J Climatol 30:1538–1546Google Scholar
  33. Löpemier FJ (1994) The calculation of soil moisture and evapotranspiration with agro-meteorological models. J Appl Irrig Sci (Zeitschrift f Bewässerungswirtschaft) 29:157–167 (in German)Google Scholar
  34. Lorenzo-Lacruz J, Vicente-Serrano SM, López-Moreno JI, Beguería S, García-Ruiz JM, Cuadrat JM (2010) The impact of droughts and water management on various hydrological systems in the headwaters of the Tagus River (central Spain). J Hydrol 386:13–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Maracchi G (2000) Agricultural drought—a practical approach to definition, assessment and mitigation strategies. In: Vogt JV, Somma F (eds) Drought and drought mitigation in Europe, vol 14, Advances in natural and technological hazards research. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, pp 63–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mourato S, Moreira M, Corte-Real J (2010) Interannual variability of precipitation distribution patterns in Southern Portugal. Int J Climatol 30:1784–1794Google Scholar
  37. Narasimhan B, Srinivasan R (2005) Development and evaluation of soil moisture deficit index (SMDI) and evapotranspiration deficit index (ETDI) for agricultural drought monitoring. Agric For Meteorol 133:69–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mann HB (1945) Nonparametric tests against trend. Econometrica 13:245–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mavromatis T (2007) Drought index evaluation for assessing future wheat production in Greece. Int J Climatol 27:911–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McKee T B, Doesken NJ, Kleist J (1993) The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. Preprints, Eighth Conf. on Applied Climatology, Anaheim, CA. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 179–184Google Scholar
  41. Možný M, Trnka M, Žalud Z, Hlavinka P, Nekovař J, Potop V, Virag M (2012) Use of a soil moisture network for drought monitoring in the Czech Republic. Theor Appl Climatol 107:99–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Özger M, Mishra AK, Singh VP (2009) Low frequency variability in drought events associated with climate indices. J Hydrol 364:152–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Palmer W C (1965) Meteorological droughts. U.S. Department of Commerce, Weather Bureau Research Paper 45, 58 ppGoogle Scholar
  44. Partal T, Kahya E (2006) Trend analysis in Turkish precipitation data. Hydrol Process 20:2011–2026CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Peterson TC (1998) Homogeneity adjustments of in situ atmospheric climate data: a review. Int J Climatol 18:1493–1517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Potter KW (1981) Illustration of a new test for detecting a shift in mean in precipitation series. Mon Weather Rev 109:2040–2045CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Potop V, Soukup J (2009) Spatiotemporal characteristics of dryness and drought in the Republic of Moldova. Theor Appl Climatol 96:305–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Potop V, Türkott L, Kožnarová V, Možný M (2010) Drought episodes in the Czech Republic and their potential effects in agriculture. Theor Appl Climatol 99:373–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Potop V (2011) Evolution of drought severity and its impact of corn in the Republic of Moldova. Theor Appl Climatol 105:468–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Potop V, Možný M (2011a) The application a new drought index—Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index in the Czech Republic. In: Středová, H., Rožnovský, J., Litschmann, T. (eds): Mikroklima a mezoklima krajinných struktur a antropogenních prostředí. Skalní mlýn, 2.–4.2. 2011 (CD)Google Scholar
  51. Potop V, Možný M (2011b) Examination of the effect of evapotranspiration as an output parameter in SPEI drought index in Central Bohemian region. In: Šiška B, Hauptvogl M, Eliašová M. (eds.). Bioclimate: source and limit of social development. International Scientific Conference, Topoľčianky, Slovakia, 6–9 September 2011, (CD)Google Scholar
  52. Potop V, Soukup J (2011) Assessing risk of dry episodes during growing seasons of vegetable crops in Polabí, Czech Republic. In: 1st Climate Change, Economic Development, Environment and People Conference, Novi Sad, Serbia, 14–16 September 2011Google Scholar
  53. Potop V, Soukup J, Možný M (2011) Drought at various timescales for secular lowland climatologically stations in the Czech Republic. Meteorologické Zpravy (Meteorological Bulletin) 64(6):177–188Google Scholar
  54. Potop V, Možný M, Soukup J (2012a) Drought at various time scales in the lowland regions and their impact on vegetable crops in the Czech Republic. Agric Forest Meteorol 156:121–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Potop V, Boroneanţ C, Štěpánek P, Skalák P, Možný M (2012b) The application of the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index for the assessment the driest and wetness characteristics during the growing season in the Czech Republic. Meteorologické Zpravy (Meteorological Bulletin) 65(4):112–120Google Scholar
  56. Potop V, Türkott L (2012) Use of Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index for assessment of water deficit and/or surplus when growing sugar beet in Central Bohemia. Sugar and Sugar Beet J 128(12):368–373Google Scholar
  57. Preisendorfer RW (1988) Principal component analysis in meteorology and oceanography. Elsevier, Amsterdam, p 425Google Scholar
  58. Rim CS (2012) The implications of geography and climate on drought trend. Int J Climatol. doi: 10.1002/joc.3628 Google Scholar
  59. Quitt E (1971) Climatic regions of Czechoslovakia. Studia Geographica, sv. 16. Brno: Czechoslovak Academy of Science—Institute of Geography. 79 ppGoogle Scholar
  60. Sinoga JDR, Marin RG, Murillo JFM, Galeote MAG (2011)Precipitation dynamics in southern Spain: trends and cycles. Int J Climatol 31:2281–2289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sneyers, R., (1990) On statistical analysis of series of observations. WMO Technical note No. 143, WMO No. 415. Geneva, Switzerland, 192 ppGoogle Scholar
  62. Szalai S, Szinell CS, Zoboki J (2000) Drought monitoring in Hungary. In: Early warning systems for drought preparedness and drought management. World Meteorological Organization, Lisbon, pp 182–199Google Scholar
  63. Senay GB, Budde MB, Brown JF, Verdin JP (2008) Mapping flash drought in the US: Southern Great Plains. In: 22nd Conference on Hydrology, AMS, New Orleans, LAGoogle Scholar
  64. Štěpánek P, Zahradníček P, Skalák P (2009) Data quality control and homogenization of air temperature and precipitation series in the area of the Czech Republic in the period 1961–2007. Adv Sci Res 3:23–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Štěpánek P (2010) ProClimDB—software for processing climatological datasets. CHMI, regional office Brno.
  66. Tallaksen LM (2000) Streamflow drought frequency analysis. In: Vogt JV, Somma F (eds.) Drought and drought mitigation in Europe—advances in natural and technological hazards research, vol. 14. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 103–117Google Scholar
  67. Thornthwaite CW (1948) An approach toward a rational classification of climate. Geogr Rev 38:55–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tolasz R (ed) (2007) Atlas podnebí Česká. Climate Atlas of Czechia. ČHMÚ, Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci, Praha-Olomouc, 254 pGoogle Scholar
  69. Trenberth KE (2011) Changes in precipitation with climate change. Clim Res 47:123–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Trigo RM, Pereira JMC, Pereira MG, Mota B, Calado TJ, Dacamara CC, Santo FE (2006) Atmospheric conditions associated with the exceptional fire season of 2003 in Portugal. Int J Climatol 26:1741–1757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Trnka M, Kysely J, Možný M, Dubrovský M (2009a) Changes in Central-European soil-moisture availability and circulation patterns in 1881–2005. Int J Climatol 29(5):655–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Trnka M, Dubrovský M, Svoboda MD, Semeradová D, Hayes MJ, Žalud Z, Wilhite DA (2009b) Developing a regional drought climatology for the Czech Republic for 1961–2000. Int J Climatol 29:863–883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. van der Schrier G, Jones PD, Briffa KR (2011) The sensitivity of the PDSI to the Thornthwaite and Penman-Monteith parameterizations for the potential evapotranspiration. J Geophys Res 116, D03106Google Scholar
  74. von Storch H (1995) Spatial patterns: EOFs and CCA. In: Von Storch H, Navarra A (eds) Analysis of climate variability: application of statistical techniques. Springer, New York, pp 227–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Vicente-Serrano SM, Beguería S, López-Moreno JI (2010) A multi-scalar drought index sensitive to global warming: the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index—SPEI. J Clim 23(7):1696–1718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Vicente-Serrano SM, Beguería S, López-Moreno JI (2011) Comment on “Characteristic and trends in various forms on the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) during 1900–2008” by Aiguo Dai. J Geogr Res 116, D19112Google Scholar
  77. Vicente-Serrano SM, Beguería S, Eklundh L, Gimeno G, Weston D, Kenawy AE, López-Moreno JI, Nieto R, Ayenew T, Konte D, Ardö J, Pegram GGS (2012) Challenges for drought mitigation in Africa: the potential use of geospatial data and drought information systems. Appl Geogr 34:471–486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wells N, Goddard S, Hayes MJ (2004) A Self-calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index. J Clim 17:2335–2351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wilhite DA, Svoboda MD, Hayes MJ (2007) Understanding the complex impacts of drought: a key to enhancing drought mitigation and preparedness. Water Resour Manag 21(5):763–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vera Potop
    • 1
    Email author
  • Constanţa Boroneanţ
    • 2
  • Martin Možný
    • 3
  • Petr Štěpánek
    • 4
  • Petr Skalák
    • 4
  1. 1.Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural ResourcesDepartment of Agroecology and BiometeorologyPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Center for Climate Change, Geography DepartmentUniversity Rovira I VirgiliTortosaSpain
  3. 3.Czech Hydrometeorological InstituteDoksany ObservatoryCzech Republic
  4. 4.Global Change Research Centre AS CRBrnoCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations