EGU24-361, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Evolution of Hydro-Meteorological Whiplash Events (Compound Floods and Droughts) over India

Debankana Bhattacharjee1 and Chandrika Thulaseedharan Dhanya2
Debankana Bhattacharjee and Chandrika Thulaseedharan Dhanya
  • 1Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Civil Engineering, New Delhi, India (
  • 2Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Civil Engineering, New Delhi, India (

In recent decades, the heightened frequency of extreme hydro-meteorological events such as floods and droughts has emerged as a global concern. These events not only pose a significant threat to individual societies but also exert lasting impacts on entire ecosystems. Of particular concern is the occurrence of whiplash events, where rapid transitions from wet to dry spells or vice versa amplify the already substantial impacts on various spatial and temporal scales. This study delves into the potential risks associated with the immediate succession of dry spells following wet spells and the heightened likelihood of intense compound occurrences fueled by concentrated rainfall distribution. Spanning 7 decades from 1951 to 2019, this research employs Event Coincidence Analysis or ECA to examine the aggregated whiplash behaviour in the Indian subcontinent. Our investigation focuses on the frequency of compound whiplash events, specifically dry spells followed by wet spells. Intriguingly, the findings reveal that, on average, 45 to 60% of dry spells across the majority of India are followed by wet spells within a 3-month window or 90 days. Moreover, our analysis demonstrates that the rate of wet spells triggering subsequent dry spells surpasses the reverse scenario. Consistent with the overall trend, compound flash floods and droughts, categorised by high intensity but brief duration, have been notably prevalent from 1951 to 2019. Although the spatial coverage of these events remains relatively small, recent decades have witnessed a discernible increase of 7–9%, primarily in arid, semi-arid, and tropical monsoon regions. Limited occurrences in tropical savannahs and humid subtropical regions were also noted. While the spatial structures associated with increased whiplash frequency appear less organised compared to individual dry and wet spells, the study underscores significantly higher ratios. This suggests that, despite the modest spatial coverage, whiplash events have experienced a notable increase in frequency over the past three decades. This comprehensive analysis contributes valuable insights into the evolving landscape of hydro-meteorological extremes, emphasising the growing importance of understanding compound events for effective climate resilience and adaptation strategies.

How to cite: Bhattacharjee, D. and Dhanya, C. T.: Evolution of Hydro-Meteorological Whiplash Events (Compound Floods and Droughts) over India, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-361,, 2024.