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The presence of weather and water whiplash in Mediterranean regions of the world is analyzed using historical streamflow records from 1926 to 2023, depending on the region. Streamflow from the United States (California), Italy, Australia, Chile, and South Africa is analyzed using publicly available databases. Water whiplash—or the rapid shift of wet and dry periods—are compared. Wet and dry periods are defined based on annual deviations from the historical record average, and whiplash occurs when there is an abrupt change that overcomes an accommodated deficit or surplus. Of all the stations, there are more dry years (56%) than wet years (44%) in these regions, along with similarities in the variances and shifts in extremes (i.e., whiplash). On average, 35% of the years were defined as water whiplash years in all countries, with the highest levels in the US (California), where 42–53% of the years were whiplash years. The influence of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences Chile and South Africa strongest during the first quarter of the year. This study found that smaller extreme wet periods and larger and less extreme dry periods are prevalent in Mediterranean regions. This has implications for water management as adaptation to climate change is considered.


This article was originally published in Water, volume 16, in 2024.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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