Inter-comparison of weather and circulation type classifications for hydrological drought development

AK Fleig, LM Tallaksen, H Hisdal, K Stahl, David Hannah

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Classifications of weather and circulation patterns are often applied in research seeking to relate atmospheric state to surface environmental phenomena. However, numerous procedures have been applied to define the patterns, thus limiting comparability between studies. The COST733 Action "Harmonisation and Applications of Weather Type Classifications for European regions" tests 73 different weather type classifications (WTC) and their associate weather types (WTs) and compares the WTCs' utility for various applications. The objective of this study is to evaluate the potential of these WTCs for analysis of regional hydrological drought development in north-western Europe. Hydrological drought is defined in terms of a Regional Drought Area Index (RDAI), which is based on deficits derived from daily river flow series. RDAI series (1964-2001) were calculated for four homogeneous regions in Great Britain and two in Denmark. For each region, WTs associated with hydrological drought development were identified based on antecedent and concurrent WT-frequencies for major drought events. The utility of the different WTCs for the study of hydrological drought development was evaluated, and the influence of WTC attributes, i.e. input variables, number of defined WTs and general classification concept, on WTC performance was assessed. The objective Grosswetterlagen (OGWL), the objective Second-Generation Lamb Weather Type Classification (LWF2) with 18 WTs and two implementations of the objective Wetterlagenklassifikation (WLK: with 40 and 28 WTs) outperformed all other WTCs. In general, WTCs with more Vas (>= 27) were found to perform better than WTCs with less (
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-515
Number of pages9
JournalPhysics and Chemistry of the Earth
Issue number9-12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • River flow
  • Low flow
  • Atmospheric circulation
  • Weather types
  • Hydrological drought
  • Hydroclimatology


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