Drought assessment in the Dongliao River basin: traditional approaches vs. generalized drought assessment index based on water resources systems
Abstract. Drought is firstly a resource issue, and with its development it evolves into a disaster issue. Drought events usually occur in a determinate but a random manner. Drought has become one of the major factors to affect sustainable socioeconomic development. In this paper, we propose the generalized drought assessment index (GDAI) based on water resources systems for assessing drought events. The GDAI considers water supply and water demand using a distributed hydrological model. We demonstrate the use of the proposed index in the Dongliao River basin in northeastern China. The results simulated by the GDAI are compared to observed drought disaster records in the Dongliao River basin. In addition, the temporal distribution of drought events and the spatial distribution of drought frequency from the GDAI are compared with the traditional approaches in general (i.e., standard precipitation index, Palmer drought severity index and rate of water deficit index). Then, generalized drought times, generalized drought duration, and generalized drought severity were calculated by theory of runs. Application of said runs at various drought levels (i.e., mild drought, moderate drought, severe drought, and extreme drought) during the period 1960–2010 shows that the centers of gravity of them all distribute in the middle reaches of Dongliao River basin, and change with time. The proposed methodology may help water managers in water-stressed regions to quantify the impact of drought, and consequently, to make decisions for coping with drought.