Droughts during 2018/2019 in the UK

The National Hydrological Monitoring Programme (NHMP) have published a paperREF on the 2018/2019 drought in the United Kingdom in the Royal Meteorological Society's journal Weather. The hot summer of 2018 may have been memorable for many and as well as this period the paper discovers the perhaps less widespread recognition of a longer period of dry conditions leading up to this heatwave, and a similarly protracted dry spell extending into late 2019 in some parts of the United Kingdom.

Read the open access paper

The paper documents the events in terms of their meteorological and hydrological nature, and assesses the varied impacts droughts had across the UK and touches on how the droughts in 2018/2019 compare with previous episodes.

Figure from the paper showing (a) Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI-1) for June 2018. Black areas indicate SPI less than -4.0. (b) Mean river flows June–July 2018.

The NHMP is operated jointly by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the British Geological Survey. The NHMP was set up in 1988 and aims to provide an authoritative voice on hydrological conditions throughout the UK and has a particular obligation to document major contemporary hydrological events and to identify and interpret long-term hydrological change and variability. Monthly Hydrological Summaries for the UK are routinely published as part of this programme, as well as Occasional Reports on major events. Further support was received from the UKRI Drought and Water Scarcity Programme, via the ‘Historic Droughts’ project.

REFTurner, S., Barker, L.J., Hannaford, J., Muchan, K., Parry, S. and Sefton, C. (2021), The 2018/2019 drought in the UK: a hydrological appraisal. Weather. https://doi.org/10.1002/wea.4003