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  • Advancing Drought Monitoring and Prediction x
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Zengchao Hao
and
Amir AghaKouchak

Abstract

Accurate and reliable drought monitoring is essential to drought mitigation efforts and reduction of social vulnerability. A variety of indices, such as the standardized precipitation index (SPI), are used for drought monitoring based on different indicator variables. Because of the complexity of drought phenomena in their causation and impact, drought monitoring based on a single variable may be insufficient for detecting drought conditions in a prompt and reliable manner. This study outlines a multivariate, multi-index drought monitoring framework, namely, the multivariate standardized drought index (MSDI), for describing droughts based on the states of precipitation and soil moisture. In this study, the MSDI is evaluated against U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) data as well as the commonly used standardized indices for drought monitoring, including detecting drought onset, persistence, and spatial extent across the continental United States. The results indicate that MSDI includes attractive properties, such as higher probability of drought detection, compared to individual precipitation and soil moisture–based drought indices. This study shows that the MSDI leads to drought information generally consistent with the USDM and provides additional information and insights into drought monitoring.

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Shahrbanou Madadgar
and
Hamid Moradkhani

Abstract

Seasonal drought forecasting is presented within a multivariate probabilistic framework. The standardized streamflow index (SSI) is used to characterize hydrologic droughts with different severities across the Gunnison River basin in the upper Colorado River basin. Since streamflow, and subsequently hydrologic droughts, are autocorrelated variables in time, this study presents a multivariate probabilistic approach using copula functions to perform drought forecasting within a Bayesian framework. The spring flow (April–June) is considered as the forecast variable and found to have the highest correlations with the previous winter (January–March) and fall (October–December). Incorporating copula functions into the Bayesian framework, two different forecast models are established to estimate the hydrologic drought of spring given either the previous winter (first-order conditional model) or previous winter and fall (second-order conditional model). Conditional probability density functions (PDFs) and cumulative distribution functions (CDFs) are generated to characterize the significant probabilistic features of spring droughts. According to forecasts, the spring drought is more sensitive to the winter status than the fall status, which approves the results of prior correlation analysis. The 90% predictive bound of the spring-flow forecast indicates the efficiency of the proposed model in estimating the spring droughts. The proposed model is compared with the conventional forecast model, the ensemble streamflow prediction (ESP), and it is found that their forecasts are generally in agreement with each other. However, the forecast uncertainty of the new method is more reliable than the ESP method. The new probabilistic forecast model can provide insights to water resources managers and stakeholders to facilitate the decision making and developing drought mitigation plans.

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Xing Yuan
,
Eric F. Wood
,
Nathaniel W. Chaney
,
Justin Sheffield
,
Jonghun Kam
,
Miaoling Liang
, and
Kaiyu Guan

Abstract

As a natural phenomenon, drought can have devastating impacts on local populations through food insecurity and famine in the developing world, such as in Africa. In this study, the authors have established a seasonal hydrologic forecasting system for Africa. The system is based on the Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), and the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) land surface model. With a set of 26-yr (1982–2007) seasonal hydrologic hindcasts run at 0.25°, the probabilistic drought forecasts are validated using the 6-month Standard Precipitation Index (SPI6) and soil moisture percentile as indices. In terms of Brier skill score (BSS), the system is more skillful than climatology out to 3–5 months, except for the forecast of soil moisture drought over central Africa. The spatial distribution of BSS, which is similar to the pattern of persistency, shows more heterogeneity for soil moisture than the SPI6. Drought forecasts based on SPI6 are generally more skillful than for soil moisture, and their differences originate from the skill attribute of resolution rather than reliability. However, the soil moisture drought forecast can be more skillful than SPI6 at the beginning of the rainy season over western and southern Africa because of the strong annual cycle. Singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis of African precipitation and global SSTs indicates that CFSv2 reproduces the ENSO dominance on rainy season drought forecasts quite well, but the corresponding SVD mode from observations and CFSv2 only account for less than 24% and 31% of the covariance, respectively, suggesting that further understanding of drought drivers, including regional atmospheric dynamics and land–atmosphere coupling, is necessary.

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Jason A. Otkin
,
Martha C. Anderson
,
Christopher Hain
,
Iliana E. Mladenova
,
Jeffrey B. Basara
, and
Mark Svoboda

Abstract

Reliable indicators of rapid drought onset can help to improve the effectiveness of drought early warning systems. In this study, the evaporative stress index (ESI), which uses remotely sensed thermal infrared imagery to estimate evapotranspiration (ET), is compared to drought classifications in the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) and standard precipitation-based drought indicators for several cases of rapid drought development that have occurred across the United States in recent years. Analysis of meteorological time series from the North American Regional Reanalysis indicates that these events are typically characterized by warm air temperature and low cloud cover anomalies, often with high winds and dewpoint depressions that serve to hasten evaporative depletion of soil moisture reserves. Standardized change anomalies depicting the rate at which various multiweek ESI composites changed over different time intervals are computed to more easily identify areas experiencing rapid changes in ET. Overall, the results demonstrate that ESI change anomalies can provide early warning of incipient drought impacts on agricultural systems, as indicated in crop condition reports collected by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. In each case examined, large negative change anomalies indicative of rapidly drying conditions were either coincident with the introduction of drought in the USDM or lead the USDM drought depiction by several weeks, depending on which ESI composite and time-differencing interval was used. Incorporation of the ESI as a data layer used in the construction of the USDM may improve timely depictions of moisture conditions and vegetation stress associated with flash drought events.

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Martha C. Anderson
,
Christopher Hain
,
Jason Otkin
,
Xiwu Zhan
,
Kingtse Mo
,
Mark Svoboda
,
Brian Wardlow
, and
Agustin Pimstein

Abstract

Comparison of multiple hydrologic indicators, derived from independent data sources and modeling approaches, may improve confidence in signals of emerging drought, particularly during periods of rapid onset. This paper compares the evaporative stress index (ESI)—a diagnostic fast-response indicator describing evapotranspiration (ET) deficits derived within a thermal remote sensing energy balance framework—with prognostic estimates of soil moisture (SM), ET, and runoff anomalies generated with the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS). Widely used empirical indices based on thermal remote sensing [vegetation health index (VHI)] and precipitation percentiles [standardized precipitation index (SPI)] were also included to assess relative performance. Spatial and temporal correlations computed between indices over the contiguous United States were compared with historical drought classifications recorded in the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM). Based on correlation results, improved forms for the ESI were identified, incorporating a Penman–Monteith reference ET scaling flux and implementing a temporal smoothing algorithm at the pixel level. Of all indices evaluated, anomalies in the NLDAS ensemble-averaged SM provided the highest correlations with USDM drought classes, while the ESI yielded the best performance of the remote sensing indices. The VHI provided reasonable correlations, except under conditions of energy-limited vegetation growth during the cold season and at high latitudes. Change indices computed from ESI and SM time series agree well, and in combination offer a good indicator of change in drought severity class in the USDM, often preceding USDM class deterioration by several weeks. Results suggest that a merged ESI–SM change indicator may provide valuable early warning of rapidly evolving “flash drought” conditions.

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