02 May 2022
 | 02 May 2022

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

Klaus Haslinger, Wolfgang Schöner, Jakob Abermann, Gregor Laaha, Konrad Andre, Marc Olefs, and Roland Koch

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: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-191', Giacomo Bertoldi, 30 Aug 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-191', Anonymous Referee #2, 09 Sep 2022

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.