Droughts are some of the worst natural disasters that bring significant water shortages, economic losses, and adverse social consequences. Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite data are widely used to characterize and evaluate droughts. In this work, we evaluate drought situations in the Yangtze River Basin (YRB) using the GRACE Texas Center for Space Research (CSR) mascon (mass concentration) data from 2003 to 2015. Drought events are identified by water storage deficits (WSDs) derived from GRACE data, while the drought severity evaluation is based on the water storage deficit index (WSDI), standardized WSD time series, and total water storage deficit (TWSD). The WSDI is subsequently compared with the Palmer drought severity index (PDSI), standardized precipitation index (SPI), standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI), and standardized runoff index (SRI). The results indicate the YRB experienced increased wetness during the study period, with WSD values increasing at a rate of 5.20mm/year. Eight drought events are identified, and three major droughts occurred in 2004, 2006, and 2011, with WSDIs of -2.05, -2.38, and -1.30 and TWSDs of -620.96mm, -616.81mm, and -192.44mm, respectively. Our findings suggest that GRACE CSR mascon data can be used effectively to assess drought features in the YRB and that the WSDI facilitates robust and reliable characterization of droughts over large-scale areas.
Keywords: Drought severity; GRACE CSR; Standardized drought indices; Water storage deficit index.
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