14A.6 A Look Back at a Historic Flash Drought Event – The Central United States Drought of 1988

Thursday, 16 January 2020: 2:45 PM
Jeffrey B. Basara, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and J. Christian, R. Wakefield, J. A. Otkin, E. D. Hunt, and T. M. Grace

During 1988, drought rapidly developed across large areas of interior North America with severe impacts to agricultural production. The standardized evaporative stress ratio (SESR) was developed to quantify flash drought events and was applied to multiple datasets for the 1988 drought eventincluding the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR), the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), MERRA Version 2 (MERRA-2), and the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS). The results demonstrated that the 1988 drought initially began as an explosive flash drought event across the central United States during the month of June. In addition, for the central United States, the 1998 event ranks as the largest spatial area that yielded flash drought during the growing seasons for any year during the satellite period (1979 – present). Additional environmental conditions that played critical roles included (1) large-scale forcings that drove precipitation deficits along with enhanced solar radiation, vapor pressure deficits, and surface temperature conditions and (2) local surface-atmosphere coupling. These factors were examined and demonstrated that an ideal quasi-location of cascading factors led to the explosive flash drought development.
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