02 May 2022
02 May 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Contradictory signal in future surface water availability in Austria: increase on average vs. higher probability of droughts

Klaus Haslinger1, Wolfgang Schöner2, Jakob Abermann2, Gregor Laaha3, Konrad Andre1, Marc Olefs1, and Roland Koch1 Klaus Haslinger et al.
  • 1Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), Climate Research Department, Hohe Warte 38, 1190 Vienna, Austria
  • 2University of Graz, Department of Geography and Regional Sciences, Heinrichstraße 36, 8010 Graz, Austria
  • 3University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Peter Jordan Straße 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria

Abstract. In this paper future changes of surface water availability in Austria are investigated. We use an ensemble of downscaled and bias-corrected regional climate model simulations of the EURO-CORDEX initiative under moderate mitigation (RCP4.5) and Paris agreement (RCP2.6) emission scenarios. The climatic water balance and its components (rainfall, snow melt, glacier melt and atmospheric evaporative demand) are used as indicators for surface water availability and we focus on different altitudinal classes (lowland, mountainous and high alpine) to depict a variety of processes in complex terrain. Apart from analysing the mean changes of these components we also pursue a hazard risk approach by estimating future changes in return periods of drought events of a given magnitude as observed in the reference period. The results show in general wetter conditions over the course of the 21st century over Austria on an annual basis compared to the reference period 1981–2010. Considering seasonal differences, winter and spring are getting wetter due to an increase in precipitation and a higher fraction of rainfall as a consequence of rising temperatures. In summer only little changes in the mean of the climatic water balance conditions are visible across the model ensemble. On the contrary, by analysing changes in return periods of drought events, an increasing risk of moderate and extreme drought events during summer is apparent, a signal emerging within the climate system along increasing warming.

Klaus Haslinger et al.

Status: open (until 13 Jun 2022)

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Klaus Haslinger et al.

Klaus Haslinger et al.


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Short summary
Future changes of surface water availability in Austria are investigated. Alterations of the climatic water balance and its components (liquid precipitation, snow melt, potential evapotranspiration) are analysed along different levels of elevation. Results indicate in general wetter conditions with particular shifts in timing of the snow melt season. On the contrary, an increasing risk for summer droughts is apparent due to increasing year-to-year variability under future climate conditions.