Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-152
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-152

  17 Jun 2021

17 Jun 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

A review of drought indices: predominance of drivers over impacts and the importance of local context

Sarra Kchouk1, Lieke A. Melsen2, David W. Walker1, and Pieter R. van Oel1 Sarra Kchouk et al.
  • 1Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, 6708PB, The Netherlands
  • 2Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, 6708PB, The Netherlands

Abstract. Drought monitoring and Early Warning Systems (DEWS) are seen as helpful tools to tackle drought at an early stage and reduce the possibility of harm or loss. They usually include indices attributed to meteorological, agricultural and/or hydrological drought: physically based drought drivers. These indices are used to determine the onset, end and severity of a drought event. Drought impacts are less monitored or even not included in DEWS. Therefore, the likelihood of experiencing drought impacts is often simply linearly linked to drivers of drought. The aim of this study is to evaluate the validity of the assumed direct linkage between drivers of drought and drought impact. We reviewed scientific literature on both drivers and impacts of drought. We conducted a bibliometric analysis based on 5000+ scientific studies in which selected drought indices (drivers) and drought impacts were mentioned in relation to a geographic area. Our review shows that there is a tendency in scientific literature to focus on drivers of drought, with the preferred use of meteorological and remotely sensed drought indices. Studies reporting drought impacts are more localised, with relatively many studies focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa and Australasia for impacts with regard to food security and water security, respectively. Our review further suggests that drought-impacts studies are dependent on both the physical and human processes occurring in the geographic area, i.e. the local context. With the aim of increasing the relevance and utility of the information provided by DEWS, we argue in favour of additional consideration of drought impact indices oriented towards sustainable development and human welfare.

Sarra Kchouk et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-152', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Jul 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Sarra Kchouk, 28 Jul 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2021-152', Anonymous Referee #2, 16 Jul 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Sarra Kchouk, 28 Jul 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on nhess-2021-152', Anonymous Referee #3, 21 Jul 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Sarra Kchouk, 30 Jul 2021
  • RC4: 'Comment on nhess-2021-152', Anonymous Referee #4, 22 Aug 2021
    • AC4: 'Reply on RC4', Sarra Kchouk, 31 Aug 2021

Sarra Kchouk et al.

Data sets

Data underlying the publication: "A review of drought indices: predominance of drivers over impacts and the importance of local context" Sarra Kchouk, Lieke A. Melsen, David W. Walker, Pieter R. Van Oel. https://figshare.com/s/dd10a23059dd637464bf

Model code and software

Data underlying the publication: "A review of drought indices: predominance of drivers over impacts and the importance of local context" Sarra Kchouk, Lieke A. Melsen, David W. Walker, Pieter R. Van Oel. https://figshare.com/s/dd10a23059dd637464bf

Sarra Kchouk et al.

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Latest update: 04 Dec 2021
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Short summary
The aim of our study was to question the validity of the assumed direct linkage between drivers of drought and drought impacts mainly found in the frameworks of Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS). We analysed more than 5000 scientific studies leading us to the conclusion that the local context can contribute to drought drivers resulting in drought impacts. Our research aims to increase the relevance and utility of the information provided by DEWS.
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