Drought is one of the most serious climatic and natural disasters inflicting serious impacts on the socio-economy of Morocco, which is characterized both by low-average annual rainfall and high irregularity in the spatial distribution and timing of precipitation across the country. This work aims to develop a comprehensive and integrated method for drought monitoring based on remote sensing techniques. The main input parameters are derived monthly from satellite data at the national scale and are then combined to generate a composite drought index presenting different severity classes of drought. The input parameters are: Standardized Precipitation Index calculated from satellite based precipitation data since 1981 (CHIRPS), anomalies in the day-night difference of Land Surface Temperature as a proxy for soil moisture, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index anomalies from MODIS data and Evapotranspiration anomalies from surface energy balance modeling. All of these satellite-based indices are being used to monitor vegetation condition, rainfall and land surface temperature. The weighted combination of these input parameters into one composite indicator takes into account the importance of the rainfall based parameter (SPI). The composite drought index maps were generated during the growing seasons going back to 2003. These maps have been compared to both the historical, in situ precipitation data across Morocco and with the historical yield data across different provinces with information being available since 2000. The maps are disseminated monthly to several main stakeholders groups including the Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Water in Morocco.
Keywords: CDI; ET; LST; NDVI; SPI; composite index; drought monitoring; remote sensing.