Author(s)

David Keellings  Johanna Engstrom 

Published

2019

Citation

Keellings, D., and J. Engstrom. 2019. The future of drought in the Southeastern U.S.: Projections from downscaled CMIP5 models. Water 11(2): 259. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020259.

Publication URL

Link

Abstract

After being repeatedly struck by droughts in the last few decades, water managers and stakeholders in the Southeast U.S. dread the future extremes that climate change might cause. In this study, the length of future dry periods is assessed using a sub-ensemble of downscaled CMIP5 climate models, which are proven to perform well in precipitation estimations. The length of a dry spell with a twenty-year return period is estimated for the cold and warm seasons for two time periods; 2020–2059 and 2060–2099, and considering two emission scenarios: RCP 4.5 and 8.5. The estimates are then compared with historical dry spells and differences in length and geospatial distribution analyzed. Based on the findings of this paper, little change can be expected in dry spell length during the warm season. Greater changes are to be expected in the cold season in the southern half of Florida, where dry spells are expected to be up to twenty days shorter, while dry spells in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee are predicted to be up to twenty days longer. The changes predicted by the models are positively associated with emission trajectory and future time period.