Climatology and Variability of the Evaporative Stress Index and its suitability as a tool to monitor Australian drought

Article


Nguyen, Hanh, Otkin, Jason A., Wheeler, Matthew C., Hope, Pandora, Trewin, Blair and Pudmenzky, Christa. 2020. "Climatology and Variability of the Evaporative Stress Index and its suitability as a tool to monitor Australian drought." Journal of Hydrometeorology. 21 (10), pp. 2309-2324. https://doi.org/10.1175/JHM-D-20-0042.1
Article Title

Climatology and Variability of the Evaporative Stress Index and its suitability as a tool to monitor Australian drought

ERA Journal ID35134
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsNguyen, Hanh (Author), Otkin, Jason A. (Author), Wheeler, Matthew C. (Author), Hope, Pandora (Author), Trewin, Blair (Author) and Pudmenzky, Christa (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of Hydrometeorology
Journal Citation21 (10), pp. 2309-2324
Number of Pages16
Year2020
PublisherAmerican Meteorological Society
Place of PublicationUnited States
ISSN1525-7541
1525-755X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1175/JHM-D-20-0042.1
Web Address (URL)https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/hydr/21/10/jhmD200042.xml
Abstract

The seasonal cycle of the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) over Australia, and its relationship to observed rainfall and temperature, is examined. The ESI is defined as the standardized anomaly of the ratio of actual evapotranspiration to potential evapotranspiration, and as such, is a measure of vegetation moisture stress associated with agricultural or ecological drought. The ESI is computed using the daily output of version 6 of the Bureau of Meteorology's landscape water balance model (AWRA-L v6) on a 5 km horizontal grid over a 45-year period (1975-2019). Here we show that the ESI exhibits marked spatial and seasonal variability and can be used to accurately monitor drought across Australia. Values less than negative one indicate drought. While the ESI is highly correlated with rainfall as expected, its relationship with temperature only becomes significant during the warmer seasons, suggesting a threshold above which temperature may affect vegetation stress. Our analysis also shows that the ESI tends to be strongly negative (i.e. indicating drought) during El Niño and positive phases of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), when conditions tend to be anomalously hot and dry. A negative phase of the Southern Annular Mode also tends to drive negative ESI values during austral spring with a one-month delay.

KeywordsEvaporative Stress Index (ESI); Australia; rainfall; temperature; drought
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020370108. Meteorology
300206. Agricultural spatial analysis and modelling
370202. Climatology
300202. Agricultural land management
Byline AffiliationsAustralian Bureau of Meteorology
University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States
Centre for Applied Climate Sciences
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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