DROUGHT IN MAINLAND PORTUGAL

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1 DROUGHT IN MAINLAND Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior Instituto de Meteorologia, I. P. Rua C Aeroporto de Lisboa Tel.: (351) Lisboa Portugal Fax: (351) URL:

2 DROUGHT IN MAINLAND 1. Drought evolution in Mainland Portugal The geography of the mainland Portugal leads to the occurrence of droughts. While drought is a complex process, where meteorological, hydrological, agronomical and other aspects must me considered, it is possible to follow the onset and evolution of drought events through meteorological indices. To characterize drought in Portugal is used the Palmer Index (Palmer, 1965) which was adapted and calibrated to the specific climatic conditions of mainland Portugal. That index performs a parameterized computation of the soil water balance and compares the estimated soil moisture content with its climatological mean A statistical analysis of 4 long climatological series of the PDSI was made for Mainland Portugal. With respect to the change in variability of the PDSI (Figure 1.1), the negative values seem to dominate the last 20 years of the 20th century. The 1980-decade begins with a sudden and large decrease in the PDSI, maintaining a trend for negative values through several years. The values of the PDSI in the cooling period are less negative than in the warming period (since 1976), suggesting an increased frequency of droughts in the south of Portugal (Pires, 2003). Figure 1.1 Time series of Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) at 4 stations in mainland Portugal The PDSI average was calculated for the last four decades since 1961 (Figure 1.2). An increase in severity is observed especially between February and April, changing from normal conditions to conditions of mild and moderate drought, namely in February and March (Pires, 2003). 1

3 Figure PDSI average for the last four decades since 1961 to 2000 in Mainland Portugal To observe the evolutions of drought over the country, national maps are produced showing the monthly PDSI distribution, where is possible to determine drought-prone areas and monitor the spatial and temporal evolution of drought across mainland Portugal, which is helpful to delineate potential disaster areas, such as agriculture impacts, giving a better on-farm decision-making. 2. Drought 20/ in Mainland Portugal 20/ hydrological year was initially favorable with respect to precipitation amounts, because October was an extremely rainy month, except in the Southern region where it was dry to normal. Although, next months were classified as dry to extremely dry, which caused a drought period with high intensity. 2

4 2.1 Drought monthly evolution Figure 2.1 and Table 2.1 shows the monthly evolution of PDSI index regarding the drought area affected in Mainland Portugal. Figure Area (%) affected by drought (Sep 20 - Oct 20) PDSI Table 2.1_ Percentage of Mainland Portugal affected by drought in 20/ out 30 nov dez jan Area affected by drought in % 20/ 28 fev mar moderately wet slightly wet normal mild drought moderate drought severe drought extreme drought abr mai 30 jun jul ago 30 set out 30 nov dez The analysis of the figures and the table reveals an aggravation of the drought conditions in winter months, with attenuation in March, due to precipitation occurrence in the Northern and inner regions of the territory. In summer (June, July and August), the least rainy season, which contributes with about 6% for the annual precipitation, the drought situation worsened. In September and due to the precipitation occurred in the first fifteen days, in particular in the Northern and Centre regions there was attenuation in these regions. 3

5 At the end of the hydrological year (September 30, 20) the whole territory continued in a drought period with severe to extreme intensity. Figure 2.2 shows the number of consecutive months in which the territory was in a severe and extreme drought situation. Figure 2.2 Spatial representation of the consecutive months in severe and extreme drought situation (Period: Oct Sep ) After October 20 there was a significant attenuation of the drought situation in the whole territory, which led to the absence of areas in severe and extreme drought. On December, 20, 84% of the territory still remained in a drought period with moderate to mild intensity. The spatial distribution of PDSI index during 20/20 is represented in Figure

6 Oct 30 Nov Dec Jan 28 Feb Mar 30 Apr May 30 Jun Jul Aug 30 Sep Oct 30 Nov Dec Figure 2.3 PDSI Spatial Distribution (Oct -Dec ) 5

7 2.2 Comparison, on September 30, with other drought periods since 1941 Figure 2.4 shows the percentage of territory in each one of the meteorological drought classifications, according to PDSI index, where the actual values can be compared with the values on September 30 for the drought years of 1945, 1965, 1976, 1981, 1992, 1995 and However, except for 1945 and 1995 years, the meteorological drought situation had already ended by then. Figures 2.4 and Table 2.2 show the comparison of the current drought with other years affected by drought. They show that a drought event such as the present one is the worst in the last 60 years: 97% in severe and extreme drought in 20; 83% in severe and extreme drought in Figure 2.4 Other years affected by drought (referred to September 30) Table 2.2_ Percentage of Mainland Portugal affected by drought on September 30 Drought Classification Area affected by drought in % on September 30 (PDSI) extremely wet very wet moderately wet slightly wet normal mild drought moderate drought severe drought extreme drought

8 2.3. Social Economical Impacts The social and economical impacts in 20 were mainly associated with the short precipitation that happened all the year. The drought period that had started in the beginning of 20 had a major increase with this precipitation shortage. The effects were very strong in the agriculture, cattle breeding and in the water reserves, especially in the southeast and Northeastern regions. The abnormal drougth situation, together with the very high temperatures in the summer months, gave origin to serious problemens with very large forest fires Main drought impacts in the environment and human activities Agriculture and cattle breeding In the Spring/ Summer period the water storage in some of the embankments of the main agriculture areas was not enough for a normal usage; In many reagions the irrigation campaigns were restrited to just some cultures, while in other regions they were completely forbidden; High reduction in the productivity of the seasonal (Autum-Winter) cereals; The reproduction cicle of some cattle species was strongly conditioned; Reduction of the irrigation areas in Spring-Summer season; Large investments for the agriculture industry in the hidraulics areas, in order to create infrastructures to obtain more water; Cost increase of the irrigation systems due to the shortage; In large areas of the country the cattle breeders needed to be supplied with water for the animals; Decrease in the quantity and quality fruit production; Cost increase of the fuels; Significant decrease of in vegetable production of the country. Energy The dry year led to the need for more electric power obtained from fuels to meet the national needs, with the following effects: The increase of the usage of fossil combustion to produce electric power, increasing the price for CO2 emission licenses from 7,00 /t (in January) to the nearly 30 /t as at the end of the year; The capability of electric energy production based on water resources changed from 30% to 40%, in normal conditions, to less than 15% in the dry period. Information from: 7

9 Urban Supply The impact on water supply to the populations during the dry period caused the drying out of the water sources and the loss of their annual replenishing capability. The main affected areas were those with small caption systems in small river basins, or small underground reservoirs (Table 2.3 and Figure 2.5). Table 2.3_ Evolution on the population affected direct or indirectly Affected population Period With transported water With cuts/reduction of the supply 1 st half April st half May st half June nd half June st half July nd half July st half August nd half August st half September nd half September nd half October nd half November nd half December Maximum Figure 2.5 Number of municipalities with a reeiforcement of the transported water suply (blue) or cuts/reduction to household supply (brown) Information from: 8

10 Forest Fires The year of 20 was different from the previous one, because the drought conditions started in 20 allowed the starting of forest fires in the first months of 20 (Jan,Feb,Mar). The number of fires was large, even if the burned area was rather small (source:dgrf). In June the meteorological conditions were aggravated and the fires started with stronger intensity, mainly in July and August. Table 2.4 indicates the number of fires and burned area in 20. Table 2.4_ Number of forest Fires and respective burned area (source: DGRF) Number of occurrences Burned area Periods \20 20 Forest Fires mean Total (ha) 2000 \20 mean January February March April May June July August September October November December Total The drought caused some conditioning in combating forest fires Decrease in the water supply (from swimming pools, small dams, rivers, etc.) normally used in combating forest fires; Increased difficulties in supplying water to aircraft to combat fires due the decrease in water sources; 9

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