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In Science advances

Drought is one of the main threats to food security and ecosystem productivity. During the past decades, Europe has experienced a series of droughts that caused substantial socioeconomic losses and environmental impacts. A key question is whether there are some similar characteristics in these droughts, especially when compared to the droughts that occurred further in the past. Answering this question is impossible with traditional single-index approaches and also short-term and often spatially inconsistent records. Here, using a multidimensional machine learning-based clustering algorithm and the hydrologic reconstruction of European drought, we determine the dominant drought types and investigate the changes in drought typology. We report a substantial increase in shorter warm-season droughts that are concurrent with an increase in potential evapotranspiration. If shifts reported here persist, then we will need new adaptive water management policies and, in the long run, we may observe considerable alterations in vegetation regimes and ecosystem functioning.

Markonis Yannis, Kumar Rohini, Hanel Martin, Rakovec Oldrich, Máca Petr, AghaKouchak Amir