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Developing an Agricultural Drought Assessment System Using Hydrologic Model SWAT and GIS

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Paper number  032118,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.14951) @2003
Authors:   Balaji Narasimhan, Raghavan Srinivasan
Keywords:   Drought, Palmer Drought Index, Drought Index, SWAT and GIS

Drought, defined as departure of precipitation from normal, is a natural phenomenon that occurs in all climatic zones ranging from humid to arid conditions. Drought during critical period of crop growth causes billions of dollars in loss to the farming community. USDA and other federal and state agencies use drought indices like Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and Crop Moisture Index (CMI) at a coarse spatial resolution (7000 to 100,000 km2) and temporal resolution (monthly) to monitor and manage drought conditions. Two drought indices have been developed in this study using a distributed parameter model, Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) integrated with Geographical Information System (GIS) at a high spatial resolution (4km x 4km) and temporal resolution (weekly). The developed drought indices are based on departure from normal soil moisture (Soil Moisture Deficit Index SMDI) and departure from normal evapotranspiration (Evapotranspiration Deficit Index ETDI). A standardizing procedure has been adopted for spatially comparing the index across various climatic zones. Time series analyses of the standardized drought indices shows that the developed drought indices perform better in monitoring short term drought conditions that are critical in agricultural operations.

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