EGU24-12331, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The recent European droughts within the nudged storyline context

Oldrich Rakovec1,2, Antonio Sanchez Benitez3, Helge Gößling3, and Luis Samaniego1,4
Oldrich Rakovec et al.
  • 1Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany (
  • 2Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 3Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 4University of Potsdam, Institute of Environmental Science and Geography, Potsdam, Germany

Europe has experienced a series of hot and dry weather conditions with significant socioeconomic and environmental consequences over the past decade. Here, using a novel storyline approach, we examine the extremity of the recent European droughts, and we aim to isolate the thermodynamical component of climate change from changes in atmospheric patterns, which remain controversial in climate model simulations. Our climate analysis is currently based on an ensemble (n=5) of three storyline scenarios (pre-industrial, PI; PD, present-day; 4K warming) using a CMIP6 model (AWI-CM1) with the free-troposphere winds, including the jet stream, constrained toward ERA5 data. The meteorological variables at the land surface are further used as input to a hydrological impact modelling framework using the mesoscale Hydrologic Model (mHM). 

Regarding the 2022 drought analysis, first, using our experiments, we quantify the extremity of the present-day (PD) European drought against pre-industrial (PI) simulations. The potential evapotranspiration shows an apparent increase across the entire ensemble between the PD and PI periods in all of Europe. The same increase holds for actual evapotranspiration in northern Europe and most of central Europe, while the Mediterranean shows a relative decrease of 15%; however, there is no clear separation between PD and PI ensembles. The river runoff exhibits significant reductions of 35-50% in the Mediterranean regions, while changes between -15% and 15% occur over the rest of Europe (with less agreement on the signal). 

Second, we compare how the present 2022 droughts will be further amplified under different warming-level climate scenarios. Our results suggest that the 2022 river runoff drought would be much more strongly pronounced for the 4K world concerning the PD period, by up to 50% in the Mediterranean. A clear decline, although of slightly less extremity (-15% up to -40%), would also be projected across the majority of Central Europe. These changes align with observed trends associated with anthropogenic climate change. Our ongoing efforts aim to quantify possible stress on water resources and ecosystems, by providing insights into the potential future hydrological impact of different global warming levels. The aforementioned results will be further extended to address the multi-year drought perspective during the 2018-2022 periods. 

This work was supported by funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Helmholtz Research Field Earth & Environment for the Innovation Pool Project SCENIC.

How to cite: Rakovec, O., Sanchez Benitez, A., Gößling, H., and Samaniego, L.: The recent European droughts within the nudged storyline context, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-12331,, 2024.