To effectively manage hydrological drought, there is an urgent need to better understand and evaluate its human drivers. Using the “downstreamness” concept, we assess the role of a reservoir network in the emergence and evolution of droughts in a river basin in Brazil. In our case study, the downstreamness concept shows the effect of a network of reservoirs on the spatial distribution of stored surface water volumes over time. We demonstrate that, as a consequence of meteorological drought and recovery, the distribution of stored volumes became spatially skewed towards upstream locations, which affected the duration and magnitude of hydrological drought both upstream (where drought was alleviated) and downstream (where drought was aggravated). The downstreamness concept thus appears to be a useful entry point for spatiotemporally explicit assessments of hydrological drought and for determining the likelihood of progression from meteorological drought to a human-modified hydrological drought in a basin.
- hydrological drought
- water management