Doug Richardson

‌Doug Richardson -


PhD Title:

UK Drought Forecasting on Monthly to Seasonal Time-Scales using Statistical Methods


PhD Project Details:

Drought is a complex meteorological and hydrological phenomenon that can have severe implications for many social and economic sectors.  In the UK drought is a recurrent feature of climate with potentially large impacts on public water supply (e.g. 1975-76, 1995-96, 2010-12), yet it is rare that a drought will encompass the whole country at once.  This is due to spatially varying precipitation and temperature levels and the type of primary water source at risk.  Water companies’ ability to mitigate the impact of drought by managing diminishing availability depends on forecasts.


By focusing on statistical forecasting methods, this research aims to provide techniques that are faster and computationally cheaper than physically-based models.  Broadly, statistical forecasting is done by relating the variable of interest (normally a drought index) to one or more predictors via some formal dependence.  These predictors are generally antecedent values of the response variable or external forcings.  The examination of the behaviour of long-memory processes (e.g. large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns or sea surface temperatures) in the time leading up to the onset, peak severity and termination points of drought events should result in the identification of suitable predictors to be included in the forecasting model.


It is anticipated this project will enhance our ability to perform statistical forecasts of drought in the UK and improve understanding of the psychical drivers behind this phenomenon.



Professor Hayley Fowler

Professor Chris Kilsby

Dr Francesco Serinaldi






This PhD is part of the IMPETUS project, whose overarching aim is to improve the forecasting of drought in the UK on monthly to decadal timescales.



Doug received a BSc in Maths and Statistics from Newcastle University in 2014, and commenced his PhD in October 2014.