Every year NWO awards research grants to talented researchers as part of the NWO Veni, Vidi, Vici scheme. With a Veni grant, highly promising young researchers can further elaborate their own ideas during a period of three year. Last week one of these Veni grants was awarded to Obbe Tuinenburg for his proposal to improve drought predictability.
The aim of his proposed research is to get earlier and better warnings of droughts at the seasonal timescale. On this seasonal timescale, the questions we ask are not "How much precipitation will fall next Friday?", but rather "Will August be a relatively wet or dry month?". This seasonal timescale coincides with the timescale of droughts, and is currently under much scientific study.
To improve the drought predictability, all droughts that have occurred since 1979 will be analysed and categorized according to the causes of the droughts. In this project the distinction will be made between droughts that are caused by a lack of local water supply (a soil-moisture deficit), a lack of upstream water supply (upstream soil moisture or sea surface temperature anomalies) or a totally different weather regime (a different wind direction).
For these different drought types, our ability to forecast them is different. Moreover, as the dominant processes of these types of droughts are different, other observations are needed to improve drought predictions. The knowledge about past droughts will be used to evaluate current seasonal forecasts and select the model runs that are most realistic, thus improving seasonal drought predictions
Apart from the scientific output on drought causes and processes, this research will contribute to the operational seasonal drought predictions at the Red Cross Climate Center.
Environmental Sciences Blog
Written by the junior researchers, PhD-students and post-docs of the Environmental Sciences group.