Temperature and Drought
A Science Assessment by a Subgroup of the Drought Task Force
Drought research has historically focused on the analysis of how precipitation deficits cause drought. In contrast, temperature as a drought driver has only recently drawn attention.
Recent interest in temperature as a driver likely stems from observational evidence of increased land surface temperatures, more frequent heat waves, and the increasing duration of hot spells, all of which are giving a heightened perception of the land surface being “parched”. MAPP Drought Task Force research has explored the relation of temperature and drought, both as a driver of and responder to drought. In this drought information sheet, prior knowledge of drought is integrated with new insights on temperature-drought linkages. This information sheet is the state of the Drought Task Force’s knowledge on this topic.
Comparison of May-August 2012 standardized anomalies of soil moisture on the horizontal axis versus (a) precipitation, (b) surface air temperature, and (c) Bowen ratio on the ordinate. The results are for a Central Great Plains domain (36°N - 43°N, 90°W-105°W). Data are from atmospheric climate model simulations (circles) and land surface model simulations (crosses). The 1% lowest May-August precipitation simulations are highlighted in red. From Figure 10 of B. Livneh and M. Hoerling, 2016: The physics of drought in the U.S. Central Great Plains.