Anthropogenic warming is anticipated to increase soil moisture drought in the future. However, projections are accompanied by large uncertainty due to varying estimates of future warming. Here, using an ensemble of hydrological and land-surface models, forced with bias-corrected downscaled general circulation model output, we estimate the impacts of 1-3 K global mean temperature increases on soil moisture droughts in Europe. Compared to the 1.5 K Paris target, an increase of 3 K - which represents current projected temperature change - is found to increase drought area by 40% (±24%), affecting up to 42% (±22%) more of the population. Furthermore, an event similar to the 2003 drought is shown to become twice as frequent; thus, due to their increased occurrence, events of this magnitude will no longer be classified as extreme. In the absence of effective mitigation, Europe will therefore face unprecedented increases in soil moisture drought, presenting new challenges for adaptation across the continent.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)