Observatori de l'Ebre

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Observatori de l'Ebre



  • Title: Comprensión y modelización hidrológica de la sequía ibérica / Hydrological Understanding and Modeling of Iberian Drought (HUMID)
  • Period: 2018-2020.
  • Total budget: 111.078,00 EUR.
  • Code: CGL2017-85687-R
  • Financed by: Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades; Gobierno de España.
  • Project websitehttps://bitic.github.io/HUMID/


Drought is a major climatic risk resulting from complex interactions between the atmosphere, the continental surface and water resource management. Droughts have large socioeconomic impacts in Spain due to the scarcity and the high level of use of water resources. Recent studies show that drought is increasing in frequency and is more severe. Future climate scenarios show that drought will continue to increase in intensity, severity and duration, causing more competition for water resources.

In this context, it is essential to have the best possible tools to understand drought processes and to have a better capacity for diagnosis, monitoring and planning. These tools must be capable of faithfully reproducing the state of the system and its evolution, in all its complexity, including the processes of meteorological, hydrological and agronomic drought, their propagation, their feedbacks and the direct influence of human society through, mainly, reservoirs and irrigation.

Currently, in Spain, drought is being monitored using indexes calculated from observed variables, such as reservoir or piezometric levels. These empirical indices can be supplemented with model or satellite data, which can give us a global overview of the state of the system, accessing variables that are not usually observed in situ, such as soil moisture. In recent years, there have been significant advances in the simulation of continental surface processes using LSMs (land-surface models) and, also, in Earth observation, which should be integrated into the tools available for decision-making.

HUMID will study the utility of LSM models in a context of drought. The project will assess whether these models adequately reproduce the processes and characteristics of drought, both when operating independently (offline) and when used within a regional climate model (coupled). In addition, the SASER model, a distributed and physically based hydrological model for the Iberian Peninsula, based on the SURFEX LSM, will be improved. In this case, reservoirs will be introduced in the model to study the impact of these on drought processes. To this aim, models will be developed to reproduce the management rules of the main irrigation reservoirs of the Ebro basin.

In collaboration with an innovative company, HUMID will also use state-of-the-art remote sensing products, mainly soil moisture, to assess the usefulness of this information for drought monitoring. It will be evaluated how remote sensing data can be used to validate and to complement LSMs, by means of indices and, if possible, by means of data assimilation.

HUMID, in collaboration with stakeholders, will develop useful drought indices for managers, based on the observed data already in use, in combination with modelling and remote sensing data, ensuring that the results of the project will have a real impact on society.

Please, read the Spanish version of this page in order to acces to all the published documents and information.