Precipitation Variability and Drought Assessment Using the SPI: Application to Long-Term Series in the Strait of Gibraltar Area
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DepartmentCiencias de la Tierra; Ingeniería Industrial e Ingeniería Civil
SourceWater (Switzerland), Vol. 14, Núm. 6
The standardized precipitation index (SPI) provides reliable estimations about the intensity, magnitude and spatial extent of droughts in a variety of time scales based on long-term precipitation series. In this work, we assess the evolution of monthly precipitation in the Barbate River basin (S. Iberian Peninsula) between 1910/11 and 2017/18 through the generation of a representative precipitation series for the 108-year period and the subsequent application of the SPI. This extensive series was obtained after processing all the precipitation data (67 stations) available within and nearby the basin and subsequent complex gap-filling stages. The SPI identified 26 periods of drought, 12 of them severe and 6 extreme, with return periods of 9 and 18 years, respectively. Complementary analysis evidenced changes in precipitation cyclicity, with periodicities of 5 and 7-8 years during the first and second half of the study period, respectively. Additionally, the amplitude of pluviometric oscillations increased during the second half of the period, and extreme events were more frequent. While the decade 1940-1950 was very dry, with precipitation 11% below the basin's average, 1960-1970 was very humid, with precipitation 23% above average. Contrary to the results of climate change projections specific to this area, a clear downward trend in precipitation is not detected.