EGU24-8460, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Contrasting responses of drought and floods to background aridity in a changing climate across global terrestrial ecosystems

Hossein Tabari1,2,3
Hossein Tabari
  • 1Department of Meteorological and Climate Research, Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, Uccle, Belgium (
  • 2M4S, Faculty of Applied Engineering, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium (
  • 3United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Hamilton, ON, Canada (

The aridity of a region plays a pivotal role in shaping a diverse range of hydrological processes, encompassing critical aspects such as the sensitivity of evaporation to variations in temperature and precipitation, water use efficiency, and the intricate interactions between precipitation, soil moisture, and evaporation. These processes, in turn, influence the response of hydrological extremes, such as drought and flood, to global warming. Understanding the impact of aridity on these extreme events in the context of changing climate conditions across global terrestrial ecosystems is essential for comprehending water availability and ecological resilience in different regions. This study investigates the relationships of changes in drought and flood intensities for the end of the twenty-first century with background aridity across global terrestrial ecosystems. Background aridity is quantified using an aridity index, calculated as the ratio between precipitation and evaporation. Drought is characterized by the standardized precipitation index (SPI), and flood by fitting a generalized extreme value distribution (GEV) to the annual maxima flow time series of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project models. The results show opposite responses of drought and floods to background aridity under climate change across global terrestrial ecosystems. As aridity decreases from dry to wet regions, the intensification of flood events in the future is expected to increase. In contrast, drought intensification is more pronounced in dry and semi-dry regions. These findings hold significant implications for developing effective and region-specific water resource management policies to address hydrological extremes in a changing climate.

How to cite: Tabari, H.: Contrasting responses of drought and floods to background aridity in a changing climate across global terrestrial ecosystems, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-8460,, 2024.