Hydrological drought forecasts outperform meteorological drought forecasts

Samuel Jonson Sutanto*, Fredrik Wetterhall, Henny A.J. van Lanen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


One of the most effective strategies to reduce the impacts of drought is by issuing a timely and targeted warning from month to seasons ahead to end users. Yet to accurately forecast the drought hazard on a sub-seasonal to seasonal time scale remains a challenge, and usually, meteorological drought is forecasted instead of hydrological drought, although the latter is more relevant for several impacted sectors. Therefore, we evaluate the hydro-meteorological drought forecast skill for the pan-European region using categorical drought classification method. The results show that the hydrological drought forecasts outperform the meteorological drought forecasts. Hydrological drought forecasts even show predictive power (area with perfect prediction >50%) beyond 2 months ahead. Our study also concludes that dynamical forecasts, derived from seasonal climate forecasts, have higher predictability than ensemble streamflow predictions. The results suggest that further development of seasonal hydrological drought forecasting systems are beneficial, particularly important in the context of global warming, where drought hazard will become more frequent and severe in multiple regions in the world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2020


  • dynamical forecasts
  • ensemble streamflow prediction
  • hydrological drought
  • meteorological drought


Dive into the research topics of 'Hydrological drought forecasts outperform meteorological drought forecasts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this