A vulnerability curve is an important tool for the rapid assessment of drought losses, and it can provide a scientific basis for drought risk prevention and post-disaster relief. Those populations with difficulty in accessing drinking water because of drought (hereon "drought at risk populations", abbreviated as DRP) were selected as the target of the analysis, which examined factors contributing to their risk status. Here, after the standardization of disaster data from the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in 2013, the parameter estimation method was used to determine the probability distribution of drought perturbations data. The results showed that, at the significant level of α = 0.05, the DRP followed the Weibull distribution, whose parameters were optimal. According to the statistical characteristics of the probability density function and cumulative distribution function, the bulk of the standardized DRP is concentrated in the range of 0 to 0.2, with a cumulative probability of about 75%, of which 17% is the cumulative probability from 0.2 to 0.4, and that greater than 0.4 amounts to only 8%. From the perspective of the vulnerability curve, when the variance ratio of the normalized vegetation index (NDVI) is between 0.65 and 0.85, the DRP will increase at a faster rate; when it is greater than 0.85, the growth rate of DRP will be relatively slow, and the disaster losses will stabilize. When the variance ratio of the enhanced vegetation index (EVI) is between 0.5 and 0.85, the growth rate of DRP accelerates, but when it is greater than 0.85, the disaster losses tend to stabilize. By comparing the coefficient of determination (R2) values fitted for the vulnerability curve, in the same situation, EVI is more suitable to indicate drought vulnerability than NDVI for estimating the DRP.
Keywords: China; drought at risk populations; rapid assessment; remote sensing index for drought; the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River; vulnerability.