Improved understanding of regional groundwater drought development through time series modelling: the 2018–2019 drought in the Netherlands

Esther Brakkee*, Marjolein H.J. Van Huijgevoort, Ruud P. Bartholomeus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The 2018–2019 drought in north-western and central Europe caused severe damage to a wide range of sectors. It also emphasised the fact that, even in countries with temperate climates, adaptations are needed to cope with increasing future drought frequencies. A crucial component of drought management strategies is to monitor the status of groundwater resources. However, providing up-to-date assessments of regional groundwater drought development remains challenging due to the limited availability of high-quality data. This limits many studies to small selections of groundwater monitoring sites, giving an incomplete image of drought dynamics. In this study, a time series modelling-based method for data preparation was developed and applied to map the spatio-temporal development of the 2018–2019 groundwater drought in the south-eastern Netherlands, based on a large set of monitoring data. The data preparation method was evaluated for its usefulness and reliability for data validation, simulation, and regional groundwater drought assessment. The analysis showed that the 2018–2019 meteorological drought caused extreme groundwater drought throughout the south-eastern Netherlands, breaking 30-year records almost everywhere. Drought onset and duration were strongly variable in space, and higher-elevation areas suffered from severe drought well into 2020. Groundwater drought development appeared to be governed dominantly by the spatial distribution of rainfall and the landscape type. The time series modelling-based data preparation method was found to be a useful tool to enable a spatially detailed record of regional groundwater drought development. The automated time series modelling-based data validation improved the quality and quantity of useable data, although optimal validation parameters are probably context dependent. The time series simulations were generally found to be reliable; however, the use of time series simulations rather than direct measurement series can bias drought estimations, especially at a local scale, and underestimate spatial variability. Further development of time-series-based validation and simulation methods, combined with accessible and consistent monitoring data, will be valuable to enable better groundwater drought monitoring in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-569
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2022


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