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An analytical framework to understand flash drought mechanisms
  • Vishal Singh,
  • Tushar Apurv
Vishal Singh
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
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Tushar Apurv
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Understanding the physical mechanisms which contribute towards the rapid intensification of flash droughts is crucial for improving their forecasts. These mechanisms are difficult to elucidate using statistical techniques due to the complex interactions between land surface and atmospheric processes. In order to overcome this limitation, we use a slab model to model the coupled energy and water balance of the land and atmosphere. We develop an analytical framework to disentangle the influence of external forcings and system response driven by the state variables using the energy and water balance equations of the model. We apply the model to six locations selected from different climate regions of India to identify the physical mechanisms of flash droughts. We find that most flash droughts in India happen during the monsoon season, with higher frequency in humid regions of Northeast India and Southern Peninsular India. We find that all flash droughts occur during periods of deficient rainfall and the drying is predominantly driven by net shortwave radiation. However, the flash droughts differ in terms of contribution of winds towards drying, based on which we classify the flash drought mechanisms into three types: (a) flash droughts with wind-driven intensification due to land-atmospheric feedback (b) flash droughts with minimal contribution of winds towards drying and (c) flash droughts with wind-driven intensification due to advected heat. We also show that although the enhanced vapor pressure deficit is a frequently recurring feature of flash droughts, it is not necessarily the most relevant contributor in their development.
02 Mar 2024Submitted to ESS Open Archive
04 Mar 2024Published in ESS Open Archive