The complex influence of ENSO on droughts in Ecuador

S. M. Vicente-Serrano, E. Aguilar, R. Martínez, N. Martín-Hernández, C. Azorin-Molina, A. Sanchez-Lorenzo, Ahmed M. El Kenawy, M. Tomás-Burguera, E. Moran-Tejeda, J. I. López-Moreno, J. Revuelto, S. Beguería, J. J. Nieto, A. Drumond, L. Gimeno, R. Nieto

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Abstract

In this study, we analyzed the influence of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the spatio-temporal variability of droughts in Ecuador for a 48-year period (1965–2012). Droughts were quantified from 22 high-quality and homogenized time series of precipitation and air temperature by means of the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index. In addition, the propagation of two different ENSO indices (El Niño 3.4 and El Niño 1 + 2 indices) and other atmospheric circulation processes (e.g., vertical velocity) on different time-scales of drought severity were investigated. The results showed a very complex influence of ENSO on drought behavior across Ecuador, with two regional patterns in the evolution of droughts: (1) the Andean chain with no changes in drought severity, and (2) the Western plains with less severe and frequent droughts. We also detected that drought variability in the Andes mountains is explained by the El Niño 3.4 index [sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the central Pacific], whereas the Western plains are much more driven by El Niño 1 + 2 index (SST anomalies in the eastern Pacific). Moreover, it was also observed that El Niño and La Niña phases enhance droughts in the Andes and Western plains regions, respectively. The results of this work could be crucial for predicting and monitoring drought variability and intensity in Ecuador. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-427
Number of pages23
JournalClimate Dynamics
Volume48
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 26 2016

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