Characterisation of the dynamics of past droughts

Sci Total Environ. 2020 May 20;718:134588. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134588. Epub 2019 Nov 18.


Drought is a complex natural phenomenon. The description of the way in which drought changes (moves) in space may help to acquire knowledge on its drivers and processes to improve its monitoring and prediction. This research presents the application of an approach to characterise the dynamics of drought. Tracks, severity, duration, as well as localisation (onset and end position), and rotation of droughts were calculated. Results of calculated droughts were compared with documented information. Data from the Standardized Precipitation Evaporation Index (SPEI) Global Drought Monitor was used to identify droughts in India as an example for the period 1901-2013. Results show regions where droughts with considerable coverage tend to occur. Paths, i.e. consecutive spatial tracks, of six of the most severe reported droughts were analysed. In all of them, areas overlap considerably over time, which suggest that drought remains in the same region for a period of time. Results of this research are being used to build a model to predict the spatial drought tracks, incl. India (

Keywords: Drought characterisation; Drought dynamics; Drought tracking; Spatio-temporal drought analysis.