Application of hydroclimatic drought indicators in the transboundary Prut River basin

  • Vera PotopováEmail author
  • Valeriu Cazac
  • Boris Boincean
  • Josef Soukup
  • Miroslav Trnka
Original Paper


The transboundary Prut River basin (PRB) is one of the most drought vulnerable areas in the Republic of Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine. The main objective of this study was to identify the response of hydrological drought to climatic conditions and cropping practice in a region with insufficient water resources. The presented work takes advantage of the development of statistical tools to analyze existing data, as well as the collection of qualitative and quantitative hydroclimatic datasets for each sub-basin region. The study also provides survey results of the impacts of climate change on agricultural water management, including agricultural water requirements and water availability, and the transition of these impacts to cropping practice. The multi-dimensional attributes of hydrological drought are defined according to the standardized streamflow index (SSI) and water-level standardized anomaly index (SWI). The standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) was selected for the assessment of the impact of climate drought control on hydrological drought. The streamflow/water river level is determined more by the climatic water balance deficit of the previous 6 months than over longer periods. The lag times between climatic and hydrological drought are short, which can cause a hydrological drought to occur in the same season as the climatic drought that caused it. Summer streamflow droughts are most closely linked to SPEI in the same month. Summer streamflow drought in upstream areas can impact streamflow at the outlet within the same month. Winter streamflow droughts are related to longer SPEI accumulation periods resulting from snow cover. The synthesis of findings from the river basin shown that concurrent compound climate events have much more severe impact on crop failures compared to their individual occurrence. Adjustments to sowing time (15%), the introduction of more drought resistant cultivars (11%), the use of crop protection measures (9%), and shifting to new crops (8%) seem to be minor and moderate adaptation practices employed by farmers.



This work was supported by project number 16.820.5107.01 of the Republic of Moldova (“Improving Drought and Flood Early Warning, Forecasting and Mitigation using real-time hydroclimatic indicators”—IMDROFLOOD) and by the European Commission financed under the ERA-NET Cofund WaterWorks2014 Call. This ERA-NET is an integral part of the 2015 Joint Activities developed by the Water Challenges for a Changing World Joint Programme Initiative (Water JPI). Potopová also acknowledges the COST Action CA17109 “Understanding and modeling compound climate and weather events” . MT was supported by Grant Agency of the Czech Republic project no. 16-16549S “Soil and hydrological drought”. We would like to extend a special thanks to the institutions that provided information for this study: the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, the Ministry of Environment, State Hydrometeorologic Service of Moldova and Research Institute of Field Crops “Selectia”. Dr. Matthew Nicholls is kindly acknowledged for brushing up the English of the manuscript and fruitful suggestions to improve its scientific message.

Supplementary material

704_2019_2789_MOESM1_ESM.docx (799 kb)
ESM 1 The supplementary material presents the distribution of hydrological variables and additional results of the survey. (DOCX 798 kb)


  1. Alexandersson A (1986) A homogeneity test applied to precipitation data. J Climatol 6:661–675. Google Scholar
  2. Al-Faraj FAM, Scholz M (2015) Assessment of temporal hydrologic anomalies coupled with drought impact for a transboundary river flow regime: the Diyala watershed cause study. J Hydrol 517:64–73. Google Scholar
  3. Allen RG, Pereira LS, Raes D, Smith M (1998) Crop evapotranspiration: guidelines for computing crop water requirements. FAO irrigation and drainage paper 56. Rome 300(9):D05109Google Scholar
  4. Bachmair S, Stahl K, Collins K, Hannaford J, Acreman M, Svoboda M, Knutson C, Smith KH, Wall N, Fuchs B, Crossman ND, Overton IC (2016) Drought indicators revisited: the need for a wider consideration of environment and society. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Water 3:516–536. Google Scholar
  5. Barker LJ, Hannaford J, Chiverton A et al (2016) From meteorological to hydrological drought using standardized indicators. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 20(6):2483–2505. Google Scholar
  6. Blauhut V, Stahl K, Stagge JH, Tallaksen LM, De Stefano L, Vogt J (2016) Estimating drought risk across Europe from reported drought impacts, drought indices, and vulnerability factors. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 20:2779–2800. Google Scholar
  7. Boboc N, Bejan I, Castraveț T, Munteanu V, Țîțu P (2012) Landscape analysis methods. Case study of the the Middle Prut Plain. Bull Acad Sci Moldova 2(317)Google Scholar
  8. Boincean BP (2014) Fifty years of field experiments with crop rotations and continuous cultures at the Selectia Research Institute for Field Crops. In: Dent D (ed) Soil as World Heritage. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 175–200Google Scholar
  9. Boincean BP, Nica LT, Stadnic SS (2014) Productivity and fertility of the Balti chernozem under crop rotation with different systems of fertilization. In: Dent D (ed) Soil as world heritage. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 209–231. Google Scholar
  10. Bojariu R, Dascălu SI, Gothard M, Dumitrescu A, Crăciunescu V, Mătreață M, Chendeș V, Burcea S, Cică R, Birsan M, Boincean B, Velea L, Niță A, Irimescu A, Potopová V, Cazac V (2018) Variability and change in water cycle at the catchment level. In: Engineering and mathematical topics in rainfall, vol 7, pp 115–129. Google Scholar
  11. Burcea S, Cheval S, Dumitrscu A, Antonescu B, Bell A, Breza T (2012) Comparison between radar estimated and rain gauge measured precipitation in the Moldavian Plateau. Environ Eng Manag J 11(4):723–731Google Scholar
  12. Busuioc A, Dobrinescu A, Birsan MV, Dumitrescu A, Orzan A (2015) Spatial and temporal variability of climate extremes in Romania and associated large-scale mechanisms. Int J Climatol 35:1278–1300. Google Scholar
  13. Castraveț T (2012) Estimating annual soil loss by water erosion in the Middle Prut Plain, Republic of Moldova. Geographia Napocensis, 6 (2), Cluj-Napoca, 110–115Google Scholar
  14. Challinor AJ, Müller C, Asseng S, Deva C, Nicklin KJ, Wallach D, Vanuytrecht E, Whitfield S, Ramirez-Villegas J, Koehler AK (2018) Improving the use of crop models for risk assessment and climate change adaptation. Agric Syst 159:296–306. Google Scholar
  15. CIAT, World Bank (2016) Climate-smart agriculture in Moldova. CSA country profiles for Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean Series. The World Bank Group, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
  16. Corobov R, Sarodoev I, Koeppel S, Denisov N, Sarodoev G (2013) Assessment of climate change vulnerability at the local level: a case study on the Dniester River Basin (Moldova). Sci World J 13:1–13. Google Scholar
  17. Dascalu SI, Gothard M, Bojariu R, Bîrsan MV, Cică R, Vintilă R, Adler MJ, Chendeș V, Mic RP (2016) Drought-related variables over the Bârlad basin (Eastern Romania) under climate change scenarios. Catena 141:92–99. Google Scholar
  18. Dumitrescu A, Birsan MV (2015) ROCADA: a gridded daily climatic dataset over Romania (1961–2013) for nine meteorological variables. Nat Hazards 78(2):1045–1063. Google Scholar
  19. Forster S, Kuhlmann B, Lindenschmidt K, Bronstert A (2008) Assessing flood risk for a rural detention area. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 8:311–322. Google Scholar
  20. Gevaert AI, Veldkamp TIE, Ward PJ (2018) The effect of climate on timescales of drought propagation in an ensemble of global hydrological models. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci:1–25.
  21. Hartmann T, Jüpner R (eds) (2014) The European flood risk management plan: between spatial planning and water engineering. J Flood Risk Manag 9(2):360–377.
  22. Haslinger K, Koffler D, Schöner W, Laaha G (2014) Exploring the link between meteorological drought and streamflow: effects of climate-catchment interaction. Water Resour Res 50(3):2468–2487. Google Scholar
  23. Helmert J, Şensoy Şorman A, Alvarado Montero R, CDe M, de Rosnay P, Dumont M, Finger DC, Lange M, Picard G, Potopová V, Pullen S, Schuler DV, Arslan AN (2018) Snow data assimilation methods for hydrological, land surface, meteorological and climate models: Results from a COST HarmoSnow survey. Geosciences 8(12):489. Google Scholar
  24. Huang S, Huang Q, Chang J, Leng G (2016) Linkages between hydrological drought, climate indices and human activities: a case study in the Columbia River basin. Int J Climatol 36:280–290. Google Scholar
  25. Hussain A (2015) Potassium fertilization influences growth, physiology and nutrients uptake of maize (Zea mays L.). Agron Res Moldova Results-recommendations 1(161):37–50Google Scholar
  26. Iliev P (2015) Schimbările climatice şi impactul lor asupra producerii cartofului în Republica Moldova. In: Pomicultura, Viticultura şi Vinificaţia : Publ. şt.-practică, analitică şi inform, vol 5-6, pp 44–51Google Scholar
  27. Iliev P (2016) Efectele schimbării condiţiilor climatice asupra producţiei şi calităţii cartofului. Agricultura Moldovei 1-2:27–35Google Scholar
  28. Ionita M, Tallaksen LM, Kingston DG, Stagge JH, Laaha G, Van Lanen HAJ, Scholz P, Chelcea SM, Haslinger K (2017) The European 2015 drought from a climatological perspective. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 21:1397–1419. Google Scholar
  29. Kumar R, Musuuza JL, Van Loon AF, Teuling AJ, Barthel R, Ten Broek J, Mai J, Samaniego L, Attinger S (2016) Multiscale evaluation of the standardized precipitation index as a groundwater drought indicator. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 20:1117–1131. Google Scholar
  30. Laaha G, Gauster T, Tallaksen LM, Vidal JP, Stahl K, Prudhomme C, Heudorfer B, Vlnas R, Ionita M, Van Lanen HAJ, Adler MJ, Caillouet L, Delus C, Fendekova M, Gailliez S, Hannaford J, Kingston D, Van Loon AF, Mediero L, Osuch M, Romanowicz R, Sauquet E, Stagge JH, Wong WK (2017) The European 2015 drought from a hydrological perspective. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 21:3001–3024. Google Scholar
  31. Lopez-Moreno JI, Vicente-Serrano SM, Begueria S et al (2009) Dam effects on droughts magnitude and duration in a transboundary basin: the lower river Tagus, Spain and Portugal. Water Resour Res 45(W02405):1–13. Google Scholar
  32. Lopez-Moreno JI, Vicente-Serrano SM, Zabalza J et al (2013) Hydrological response to climate variability at different time scales: a study in the Ebro basin. J Hydrol 477(2):175–188. Google Scholar
  33. Lopez-Nicolas A, Pulido-Velazquez M, Macian-Sorribes H (2017) Economic risk assessment of drought impacts on irrigated agriculture. J Hydrol 550:580–589. Google Scholar
  34. Lorenzo-Lacruz J, Moran-Tejeda E, Vicente-Serrano SM et al (2013a) Streamflow droughts in the Iberian Peninsula between 1945 and 2005: spatial and temporal patterns. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 9(7):8063–8103. Google Scholar
  35. Lorenzo-Lacruz J, Vicente-Serrano SM, Gonzalez-Hidalgo JC et al (2013b) Hydrological drought response to meteorological drought in the Iberian Peninsula. Clim Res 58(2):117–131. Google Scholar
  36. Masafu CK, Trigg MA, Carter R, Howden NJK (2016) Water availability and agricultural demand: an assessment framework using global datasets in a data scarce catchment, Rokel-Seli River, Sierra Leone. J Hydrol Reg Stud 8:222–234. Google Scholar
  37. Modarres R (2007) Streamflow drought time series forecasting. Stoch Env Res Risk A 21:223–233. Google Scholar
  38. Morris J, Brewin P (2014) The impact of seasonal flooding on agriculture: the spring 2012 floods in Somerset, England. J Flood Risk Manage 7:128–140. Google Scholar
  39. Nalbantis I, Tsakiris G (2009) Assessment of hydrological drought revisited. Water Resour Manag 23(5):881–897. Google Scholar
  40. Olesen JE, Trnka M, Kersebaum KC, Skjelvag AO, Seguin B, Peltonen-Sainio P, Rossi F, Kozyra J, Micale F (2011) Impacts and adaptation of European crop production systems to climate change. Eur J Agron 34(2):96–112. Google Scholar
  41. Orth R, Zscheischler J, Seneviratne SI (2016) Record dry summer in 2015 challenges precipitation projections in Central Europe. Sci Rep 6.
  42. Piticar A, Mihăilă D, Lazurca LG, Bistricean PI, Puţuntică A, Briciu AE (2016) Spatiotemporal distribution of reference evapotranspiration in the Republic of Moldova. Theor Appl Climatol 124(3–4):1133–1144. Google Scholar
  43. Postolati A (2016) On the issue of drought-heat resistance and adaptability of soft winter wheat in the Republic of Moldova. Ştiinţa agricolă 2:17–21Google Scholar
  44. Potop V (2011) Evolution of drought severity and its impact on corn in the Republic of Moldova. Theor Appl Climatol 105(3–4):469–483. Google Scholar
  45. Potop V, Soukup J (2009) Spatiotemporal characteristics of dryness and drought in the Republic of Moldova. Theor Appl Climatol 96(3):305–318. Google Scholar
  46. Potopová V, Boroneat C, Boincean B, Soukup J (2016) Impact of agricultural drought on main crop yields in the Republic of Moldova. Int J Climatol 36(4):2063–2082. Google Scholar
  47. Potopová V, Štěpánek P, Zahradníček P, Farda A, Türkott L, Soukup J (2018) Projected changes in the evolution of drought on various timescales over the Czech Republic according to Euro-CORDEX models. Int J Climatol 38(Suppl.1):e939–e954. Google Scholar
  48. Romanescu G (2015) Floods characteristic to the Prut River (Romania). Riscuri si catastrofe 14(16):73–86Google Scholar
  49. Romanescu G, Stoleriu CC (2017) Exceptional floods in the Prut basin, Romania, in the context of heavy rains in the summer of 2010. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 17:381–396. Google Scholar
  50. Sharma TC, Panu US (2014) Modeling of hydrological drought durations and magnitudes: experiences on Canadian streamflows. J Hydrol Reg Stud 1:92–106. Google Scholar
  51. Spinoni J, Naumann G, Vogt JV, Barbosa P (2015) The biggest drought events in Europe from 1950 to 2012. J Hydrol Reg Stud 3:509–524. Google Scholar
  52. Telesca L, Lovallo M, Lopez-Moreno I, Vicente-Serrano S (2012) Investigation of scaling properties in monthly streamflow and standardized streamflow index time series in the Ebro basin (Spain). Physica A 391(4):1662–1678. Google Scholar
  53. Tijdeman E, Bachmair S, Stahl K (2016) Controls on hydrologic drought duration in near-natural streamflow in Europe and the USA. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 20:4043–4059. Google Scholar
  54. Trnka M, Semerádová D, Novotný I, Dumbrovský M, Drbal K, Pavlík F, Vopravil J, Štěpánková P, Vizina A, Balek J, Hlavinka P, Bartošová L, Žalud Z (2016) Assessing the combined hazards of drought, soil erosion and local flooding on agricultural land: a Czech case study. Clim Res 70:231–249. Google Scholar
  55. Trnka M, Hayes M, Jurečka F, Bartošová L, Anderson M, Brázdil R, Brown J, Camarero JJ, Cudlín P, Dobrovolný P, Eitzinger J, Feng S, Finnessey T, Gregoric G, Havlik P, Hain C, Holman I, Johnson D, Kersebaum K, Ljungqvist F, Luterbacher J, Micale F, Hartl-Meier C, Možný M, Nejedlik P, Olesen J, Ruiz-Ramos M, Rötter R, Senay G, Vicente-Serrano SM, Svoboda M, Susnika A, Tadesse T, Vizina A, Wardlow B, Büntgen U, Žalud Z (2018) Priority questions in multidisciplinary drought research. Clim Res 75:241–260. Google Scholar
  56. Van Lanen H, Laaha G, Kingston DG, Gauster T, Ionita M, Vidal JP, Vlnas R, Tallaksen LM, Stahl K, Hannaford J, Delus C, Fendekova M, Mediero L, Prudhomme C, Rets E, Romanowicz RJ, Gailliez S, Wong WK, Adler MJ, Blauhut V, Caillouet L, Chelcea S, Frolova N, Gudmundsson L, Hanel M, Haslinger K, Kireeva M, Osuch M, Sauquet E, Stagge JH, Van Loon AF (2016) Hydrology needed to manage droughts: the 2015 European case. Hydrol Process 30(17):3097–3104. Google Scholar
  57. Van Loon AF, Laaha G (2015) Hydrological drought severity explained by climate and catchment characteristics. J Hydrol 526:3–14. Google Scholar
  58. Van Loon AF, Gleeson T, Clark J, Dijk V, AIJM Stahl K, Hannafjord J, Teuling A, Tallaksen LM, Uijlenhoet R, Hannah DM, Sheffield J, Svoboda M, Verbeiren B, Wagener T, Rangecroft S, Wanders N, Van Lanen HAJ (2016) Drought in the anthropocene. Nat. Geosci 9(2):89–91. Google Scholar
  59. Vanwindekens FM, Gobin A, Curnel Y, Planchon V (2018) New approach for mapping the vulnerability of agroecosystems based on expert knowledge. Math Geosci 50:679–696. Google Scholar
  60. Vicente-Serrano SM, Beguería S, López-Moreno JI (2010) A multi-scalar drought index sensitive to global warming: the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index – SPEI. J Clim Appl Meteorol 23:1696–1718. Google Scholar
  61. Vicente-Serrano SM, López-Moreno JI, Beguería S, Lorenzo-Lacruz J, Azorin-Molina C, Morán-Tejada E (2012) Accurate computation of a streamflow drought index. J Hydrol Eng 17:318–332. Google Scholar
  62. Vicente-Serrano SM, Zabalza-Martíneza J, Borràsb G, López-Morenoa JI, Plac E, Pascualc D, Savéd R, Bield Funesd CI, Azorin-Molinaa C, Sanchez-Lorenzoa M-HN, Pena-Gallardoa M, Alonso-Gonzáleza E, Tomas-Burguerae M, AEl K (2017) Extreme hydrological events and the influence of reservoirs in a highly regulated river basin of northeastern Spain. J Hydrol Reg Stud 12:13–32. Google Scholar
  63. Wada Y, van Beek LPH, Wanders N, Bierkens MFP (2013) Human water consumption intensifies hydrological drought worldwide. Environ Res Lett 8(3):34–36. Google Scholar
  64. Wan W, Zhao J, Li H-Y, Mishra A, Ruby Leung L, Hejazi M, Wang W, Lu H, Deng Z, Demissisie Y, Wang H (2017) Hydrological drought in the anthropocene: impacts of local water extraction and reservoir regulation in the U.S. J Geophys Res Atmos 122(11):313–311,328. Google Scholar
  65. Wanders N, Wada Y (2015) Human and climate impacts on the 21st century hydrological drought. J Hydrol 526:208–220. Google Scholar
  66. Wanders N, Wada Y, Lanen HAJV (2015) Global hydrological droughts in the 21st century under a changing hydrological regime. Earth System Dynamics 6(1):1. Google Scholar
  67. Wang YF, Chen XW, Chen Y et al (2015) Flood/drought event identification using an effective indicator based on the correlations between multiple time scales of the Standardized Precipitation Index and river discharge. Theor Appl Climatol 17(5):1–10 1607-7938/hess/2005-9-523Google Scholar
  68. Wilkinson M, Quinn P, Hewett C (2013) The floods and agriculture risk matrix: a decision support tool for effectively communicating flood risk from farmed landscapes. Int J River Basin Manage 11:237–252. Google Scholar
  69. Zscheischler J, Orth R, Seneviratne SI (2017) Bivariate return periods of temperature and precipitation explain a large fraction of European crop yields. Biogeosciences:1–18.
  70. Zscheischler J, Westra S, van den Hurk BJJM, Seneviratne SI, Ward PJ, Pitman A, AghaKouchak A, Bresch DN, Leonard M, Wahl T, Zhang X (2018) Future climate risk from compound events. Nat Clim Chang 8:469–477. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agroecology and BiometeorologyCzech University of Life Sciences PraguePragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Hydrology Department/State Hydrometeorologic ServiceChisinauRepublic of Moldova
  3. 3.Research Institute of Field Crops “Selectia”BaltiRepublic of Moldova
  4. 4.Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of SciencesBrnoCzech Republic
  5. 5.Institute of Agrosystems and BioclimatologyMendel University in BrnoBrnoCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations