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Variability of droughts in the Czech Republic, 1881–2006

Abstract

We analyze droughts in the Czech Republic from 1881–2006 based on the Palmer drought severity index (PDSI) and the Z-index using averaged national temperature and precipitation series for the calculations. The standardized precipitation index (SPI), PDSI and Z-index series show an increasing tendency towards longer and more intensive dry episodes in which, for example, droughts that occurred in the mid-1930s, late 1940s–early 1950s, late 1980s–early 1990s and early 2000s were the most severe. Cycles at periods of 3.4–3.5, 4.2–4.3, 5.0–5.1 and 15.4 years exceeded 95% confidence levels in application of maximum entropy spectral analysis. These are expressed at different intensities throughout the period studied. The occurrence of extremely dry and severely dry months is associated with a higher frequency of anticyclonic situations according to the classification employed by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. Principal component analysis documents the importance of the ridge from the Siberian High over Central Europe when extreme and severe droughts in months of the winter half-year are considered in terms of sea-level pressure. In the summer half-year, the ridge of the Azores High over Central Europe is the most important. Drought episodes have a profound effect on national and regional agricultural production, with yields being consistently lower than in normal years, as is documented through the example of spring barley, winter wheat, forage crops on arable land, and hay from meadows. Seasons with pronounced drought during the April–June period (e.g., 1947 and 2000) show the most significant yield decreases. Forests appear to be very vulnerable to long-term drought episodes, as it was the case during the dry years of 1992–1994. This study clearly confirms the statistically significant tendency to more intensive dry episodes in the region, driven by temperature increase and precipitation decrease, which has already been suggested in other studies.

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Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by project No. 521/08/1682 of Grant Agency of the Czech Republic. Rudolf Brázdil, Petr Dobrovolný and Kateřina Chromá were supported by research plan MŠM0021622412 (INCHEMBIOL), Miroslav Trnka, Zdeněk Žalud and Petr Hlavinka by research plan MŠM6215648905 “Biological and technological aspects of sustainability of controlled ecosystems and their adaptability to climate change”; both projects are financed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic. Petr Štěpánek (Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Brno) is acknowledged for providing his mean temperature series for the Czech Republic, as well as the AnClim software used for part of the calculations; Jan Honner and Iveta Horáková (Czech Statistical Office, České Budějovice, and Prague) for compilation and quality control of national and district crop yields data; and Tony Long (Svinošice) for English language corrections. Brian Fuchs (National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and the second anonymous reviewer are also acknowledged for their useful and constructive criticism of the manuscript.

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Brázdil, R., Trnka, M., Dobrovolný, P. et al. Variability of droughts in the Czech Republic, 1881–2006. Theor Appl Climatol 97, 297–315 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-008-0065-x

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Keywords

  • Czech Republic
  • Standardize Precipitation Index
  • Drought Index
  • Palmer Drought Severity Index
  • Meteorological Drought