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Assessing Past and Projected Drought Patterns In Central America’s Northern Triangle Region

November 13, 2019 @ 12:00 pm


Nicholas Depsky, MS

What to Expect

Central America’s Northern Triangle has periodically faced severe droughts in the past, which have had a range of socio-economic impacts. This study aims to understand both the historical and projected changes in drought patterns in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras at both the national and department-levels. This analysis uses a purely meteorological definition of drought, with deficits in rainfall identified by via the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) at multiple time-scales (3, 6, 9 and 12-months). The average drought duration, intensity, and 10-year frequency are drought characteristics considered for both the historical and future periods of analysis. Historical droughts are characterized using the ERA-5 Reanalysis dataset – a globally gridded dataset of observed monthly precipitation from 1979-2018. Projected changes in patterns of drought throughout the 21st century are evaluated using 20 bias-corrected, statistically-downscaled (BCSD) global climate models from the CoupledModel Inter-Comparison Project (CMIP5). Changes in each model’s future drought characteristics relative to its historical baseline were calculated for moderate and high-emissions scenarios in three future periods (2011-2040, 2041-2070, 2071-2100). Results show that the duration, intensity, and frequency of droughts at all time-scales increase on the order of +10 – 50% relative to the historical baseline throughout the 21st century. Mean annual rainfall is also projected to decline but these reductions are proportionately smaller than the projected increases in drought characteristics.

Speaker Bio

Nicholas Depsky is a 3rd year graduate student (1st year PhD) in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley. Nicholas’ background is in hydrological modeling and climate scenario planning with stakeholders a the basin-scale. His current research interests are focused on understanding historical and projected patterns of certain climate shocks (namely drought) and their potential socioeconomic impacts on communities, such as food insecurity and displacement. The study area for research thus far is the Northern Triangle region of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador), though he is considering a more comprehensive analysis of Central America as a whole.

Website (https://erg.berkeley.edu/people-at-erg/students/)


Bill Collins




B74-324 Conference Room