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  1. Abstract

    Quantifying the spatial and interconnected structure of regional to continental scale droughts is one of the unsolved global hydrology problems, which is important for understanding the looming risk of mega-scale droughts and the resulting water and food scarcity and their cascading impact on the worldwide economy. Using a Complex Network analysis, this study explores the topological characteristics of global drought events based on the self-calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index. Event Synchronization is used to measure the strength of association between the onset of droughts at different spatial locations within the time lag of 1-3 months. The network coefficients derived from the synchronization network indicate a highly heterogeneous connectivity structure underlying global drought events. Drought hotspot regions such as Southern Europe, Northeast Brazil, Australia, and Northwest USA behave as drought hubs that synchronize regionally and with other hubs at inter-continental or even inter-hemispheric scale. This observed affinity among drought hubs is equivalent to the ‘rich-club phenomenon’ in Network Theory, where ‘rich’ nodes (here, drought hubs) are tightly interconnected to form a club, implicating the possibility of simultaneous large-scale droughts over multiple continents.

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  3. Abstract

    Droughts have a dominant three‐dimensional (3‐D) spatiotemporal structure typically spanning hundreds of kilometers and often lasting for months to years. Here, we introduced a novel framework to explore the 3‐D structure of the evolution of droughts based on network theory concepts. The proposed framework is applied to identify critical source regions responsible for large‐scale drought onsets during 1901–2014 for the North American continent using the Standardized Precipitation Evaporation Index (SPEI). We built a spatial network connecting the drought onset timings for the North American continent. Using a spatially weighted network partitioning algorithm, the whole continent is then classified into regional spatial drought networks (RSN), where droughts are more likely to propagate within these regional systems. Finally, a customized network metric was applied to identify locations (source regions) where the drought onsets further propagate to other areas within the regional spatial network. Our results indicated that the West coast, Texas coastal region, and Southeastern Arkansas as major source regions through which atmospheric drought propagates to Western, South Central, and Eastern North America. The formation of drought source regions are due to presence of high pressure ridges and anomalous wind patterns. Furthermore, our results indicate that the drought propagation from these source regions may be due to inadequate moisture transport. The proposed framework can help to develop an early warning detection system for droughts and other spatially extensive extreme events such as heatwaves and floods.

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  4. Abstract

    Complex network (CN) is a graph theory‐based depiction of relation shared by various elements of a complex dynamical system such as the atmosphere. Here we apply the concept of CN to understand the directionality and topological structure of summer extreme precipitation events (SEPEs) over the conterminous United States (CONUS). The SEPEs are calculated based on the 95th percentile daily rainfall at 0.5° × 0.5° spatial resolution for CONUS to investigate the multidimensional characteristics of precipitation extremes. The derived CN coefficients (e.g., betweenness centrality, clustering coefficient, orientation, and network divergence) reveal important structural and dynamical information about the topology of the SEPEs and improve understanding of the dominant meteorological patterns. The initiation and propagation of SEPEs from the source zones to the sink zones are identified. The SEPEs are influenced by topography, dominant wind patterns, and moisture sources in terms of their topological structure and spatial dynamics.

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