Flash drought in Australia: deriving a long-term climatology from drought metrics based on precipitation, evapotranspiration, and evaporative demand. Journal Article uri icon



  • <p>Until the scientific community coalesces around a consensus definition of flash drought, we might usefully distinguish them from “ordinary” droughts by applying a criterion of a rapid intensification from near-normal soil moisture to drought conditions over a period of a few weeks. Here, we use such a definition to generate the first spatially distributed, long-term climatology of flash droughts across Australia, which we derive using a suite of indices that capture both the supply and the demand perspectives of drought: evaporative demand describes the atmospheric demand for moisture from the surface; precipitation, the supply of moisture from the atmosphere to the surface; and evaporative stress, the supply of moisture from the surface relative to evaporative demand.</p><p>Regardless of metric-based definition, flash droughts are observed across all seasons. They can terminate as rapidly as they start, but in some cases can eventuate in a seasonal-scale drought. We show that flash-drought variability and its prevalence can be related to ENSO phases, which suggests an opportunity for enhanced seasonal-scale prediction. We examine a case study in the Wimmera Region of southeast Australia (around the South Australia / Victoria border), we show that monitoring precipitation is less useful for capturing the onset of flash drought. Instead, indices that capture the demand perspective of drought--such as the Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) and Evaporative Stress Index (ESI)--are more useful for monitoring flash-drought development.</p>

publication date

  • March 4, 2021

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • June 3, 2021 10:07 AM

Full Author List

  • Hobbins M; Parker T; Gallant A; Hoffmann D

author count

  • 4

Other Profiles