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A Modified Drought Index for Wmo Ra VI : Volume 6, Issue 1 (20/10/2011)

By Pietzsch, S.

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Book Id: WPLBN0003989846
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 5
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: A Modified Drought Index for Wmo Ra VI : Volume 6, Issue 1 (20/10/2011)  
Author: Pietzsch, S.
Volume: Vol. 6, Issue 1
Language: English
Subject: Science, Advances, Science
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection (Contemporary), Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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Pietzsch, S., & Bissolli, P. (2011). A Modified Drought Index for Wmo Ra VI : Volume 6, Issue 1 (20/10/2011). Retrieved from

Description: Deutscher Wetterdienst, Offenbach, Germany. Drought is a phenomenon which can cause large economical impact even in Europe. To assess the magnitude and the spatial extension of drought events, it is important to have a standardized drought index which is applicable for a large climatically heterogeneous region like Europe or the WMO RA VI Region (Europe and the Middle East). Such an index should describe the drought phenomenon adequately, but it should also be derivable from meteorological quantities which are easily and timely available in whole Europe.

In a first investigation, some candidates for drought indices were chosen, compared and assessed for applicability in whole Europe. The most appropriate one seems to be the widely known Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) which is a standardized and handy measurement of drought for any location and requires nothing but precipitation data. However, it has turned out that for some places in the RA VI Region, notably in arid regions in summer, the SPI does not always provide reasonable or easily interpretable results.

For that reason, some modifications of the SPI have been tried out and tested statistically. It seems that the gamma distribution of precipitation which is used for computation of the SPI is in fact the most appropriate one and other distributions have not improved the results substantially. On the other hand a so called zero correction, which sets very small precipitation totals to dry values, only dependent on the precipitation distribution, but independent on the individual location delivers more reasonable results.

Maps of the new modified drought index and its anomalies from the climate normal are produced quasi-operationally and distributed via the Internet each month. The drought monitoring is part of the monitoring programme of the WMO RA VI Pilot Regional Climate Centre on Climate Monitoring (RCC-CM) hosted by the German Meteorological Service (Deutscher Wetterdienst, DWD), and the maps can be found on its present RCC-CM platform (

A modified drought index for WMO RA VI

Müller-Westermeier, G.: Die Klimatische Wasserbilanz, in: Deutscher Wetterdienst (2005): Klimaatlas Bundesrepublik Deutschland 4, Offenbach am Main, 2005 (in German).; McKee, T. B., Doesken, N. J., and Kleist, J.: The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales, Proceedings of the Eighth Conference on Applied Climatology, Anaheim, California, 1993.; National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC): Interpretation of 1-Month Standardized Precipitation Index Map,, 2011.; Parry, S., Prudhomme, C., Hannaford, J., and Lloyd-Hughes, B.: Examining the spatio-temporal evolution and characteristics of large-scale European droughts, in: Role of Hydrology in Managing Consequences of a Changing Global Environment, Proceedings of the BHS Third International Symposium, edited by: Kirby, C., Newcastle, British Hydrological Society, 135–142, 2010.; Pietzsch, S.: Raum-zeitliche Analyse von Dürreperioden in der WMO Region VI (Europa und Naher Osten), Diploma thesis, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, 2009 (in German).; Schneider, U., Fuchs, T., Meyer-Christoffer, A., and Rudolf, B.: Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC): Global Precipitation Analysis Products of the GPCC, Deutscher Wetterdienst Offenbach am Main, internet publication:, 2008.; Sousa, P. M., Trigo, R. M., Aizpurua, P., Nieto, R., Gimeno, L., and Garcia-Herrera, R.: Trends and extremes of drought indices throughout the 20th century in the Mediterranean, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 33–51, doi:10.5194/nhess-11-33-2011, 2011.; Wendling, U.: Berechnung der Gras-Referenz-Verdunstung mit der FAO Penman-Monteith-Beziehung, Wasserwirtschaft 85E, H.12, 602–660, 1995 (in German).; Wilhite, D. A.: Drought a global assessment, Vol. I, London, 2000.; de Martonne, E.: Traite de géographie physique. Notions générales, climat, hydrogeographie, 8th edn., Colin, Paris, 1950 (in French).; Fleig, A. K., Tallaksen, L. M., Hisdal, H., and Hannah, D. M.: Regional hydrological drought in north-western Europe: linking a new Regional Drought Area Index with weather types, Hydrol. Process., 25, 1163–1179, doi:10.1002/hyp.7644, 2011.; Hannaford, J., Lloyd-Hughes, B., Keef, C., Parry, S., and Prudhomme, C.: Examining the large scale spatial coherence of European drought using regional indicators of precipitation and streamflow deficit, Hydrol. Process., 25, 1146–1162, doi:10.1002/hyp.7725, 2011.; Lloyd-Hughes, B. and Saunders, M. A.: A drought climatology for Europe, Int. J. Climatol., 22, 1571–1592, 2002.


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