Heatwaves, droughts, and fires: Exploring compound and cascading dry hazards at the pan-European scale

Samuel Jonson Sutanto*, Claudia Vitolo, Claudia Di Napoli, Mirko D'Andrea, Henny A.J. Van Lanen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Compound and cascading natural hazards usually cause more severe impacts than any of the single hazard events alone. Despite the significant impacts of compound hazards, many studies have only focused on single hazards. The aim of this paper is to investigate spatio-temporal patterns of compound and cascading hazards using historical data for dry hazards, namely heatwaves, droughts, and fires across Europe. We streamlined a simple methodology to explore the occurrence of such events on a daily basis. Droughts in soil moisture were analyzed using time series of a threshold-based index, obtained from the LISFLOOD hydrological model forced with observations. Heatwave and fire events were analyzed using the ERA5-based temperature and Fire Weather Index datasets. The data used in this study relates to the summer seasons from 1990 to 2018. Our results show that joint dry hazard occurrences were identified in west, central, and east Europe, and with a lower frequency in southern Europe and eastern Scandinavia. Drought plays a substantial role in the occurrence of the compound and cascading events of dry hazards, especially in southern Europe as it drives duration of cascading events. Moreover, drought is the most frequent hazard-precursor in cascading events, followed by compound drought-fire events. Changing the definition of a cascading dry hazard by increasing the number of days without a hazard from 1 to 21 within the event (inter-event criterion), lowers as expected, the maximum number of cascading events from 94 to 42, and extends the maximum average duration of cascading events from 38 to 86 days. We had to use proxy observed data to determine the three selected dry hazards because long time series of reported dry hazards do not exist. A complete and specific database with reported hazards is a prerequisite to obtain a more comprehensive insight into compound and cascading dry hazards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105276
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Concurrent events
  • Historical data
  • Multi hazard
  • Sequent events


Dive into the research topics of 'Heatwaves, droughts, and fires: Exploring compound and cascading dry hazards at the pan-European scale'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this