Drought Forecasting Using the Standardized Precipitation Index

University of Catania, Catania, Sicily, Italy
Water Resources Management (Impact Factor: 2.6). 05/2007; 21(5):801-819. DOI: 10.1007/s11269-006-9062-y


Unlike other natural disasters, drought events evolve slowly in time and their impacts generally span a long period of time. Such features do make possible a more effective drought mitigation of the most adverse effects, provided a timely monitoring of an incoming drought is available.
Among the several proposed drought monitoring indices, the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) has found widespread application for describing and comparing droughts among different time periods and regions with different climatic conditions. However, limited efforts have been made to analyze the role of the SPI for drought forecasting.
The aim of the paper is to provide two methodologies for the seasonal forecasting of SPI, under the hypothesis of uncorrelated and normally distributed monthly precipitation aggregated at various time scales k. In the first methodology, the auto-covariance matrix of SPI values is analytically derived, as a function of the statistics of the underlying monthly precipitation process, in order to compute the transition probabilities from a current drought condition to another in the future. The proposed analytical approach appears particularly valuable from a practical stand point in light of the difficulties of applying a frequency approach due to the limited number of transitions generally observed even on relatively long SPI records. Also, an analysis of the applicability of a Markov chain model has revealed the inadequacy of such an approach, since it leads to significant errors in the transition probability as shown in the paper. In the second methodology, SPI forecasts at a generic time horizon M are analytically determined, in terms of conditional expectation, as a function of past values of monthly precipitation. Forecasting accuracy is estimated through an expression of the Mean Square Error, which allows one to derive confidence intervals of prediction. Validation of the derived expressions is carried out by comparing theoretical forecasts and observed SPI values by means of a moving window technique. Results seem to confirm the reliability of the proposed methodologies, which therefore can find useful application within a drought monitoring system.

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Available from: Brunella Bonaccorso
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    • "The stochastic properties of the SPI time series have been explored for analyzing and predicting drought class transitions in the Portuguese context272829303132. The methodologies include regression analysis[33], time series modeling such as ARIMA and seasonal ARIMA[34,35], artificial neural network models (ANN)[36,37]and stochastic and probability models such as Markov chains383940, log-linear models[31,41]and others[42,43]. Also, hybrid models combining two techniques have been used, for instance wavelet transforms and neural networks[44], stochastic and neural network modeling[45], wavelet and fuzzy logic models[46], adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference[47]and data mining and ANFIS techniques[48]. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study aims at predicting the Standard Precipitation Index (SPI) drought class transitions in Portugal, considering the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) as one of the main large-scale atmospheric drivers of precipitation and drought fields across the Western European and Mediterranean areas. Log-linear modeling of the drought class transition probabilities on three temporal steps (dimensions) was used in an SPI time series of six- and 12-month time scales (SPI6 and SPI12) obtained from Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) precipitation datasets with 1.0 degree of spatial resolution for 10 grid points over Portugal and a length of 112 years (1902–2014). The aim was to model two monthly transitions of SPI drought classes under the influence of the NAO index in its negative and positive phase in order to obtain improvements in the predictions relative to the modeling not including the NAO index. The ratios (odds ratio) between transitional probabilities and their confidence intervals were computed in order to estimate the probability of one drought class transition over another. The prediction results produced by the model with the forcing of NAO were compared with the results produced by the same model without that forcing, using skill scores computed for the entire time series length. Overall results have shown good prediction performance, ranging from 73% to 76% in the percentage of corrects (PC) and 56%–62% in the Heidke skill score (HSS) regarding the SPI6 application and ranging from 82% to 85% in the PC and 72%–76% in the HSS for the SPI12 application. The model with the NAO forcing led to improvements in predictions of about 1%–6% (PC) and 1%–8% (HSS), when applied to SPI6, but regarding SPI12 only seven of the locations presented slight improvements of about 0.4%–1.8% (PC) and 0.7%–3% (HSS).
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Water
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    • "Those approaches generate probabilistic forecasts of future droughts in function of earlier drought conditions. According to the probability conditional theory are the models based on MC most common for drought forecasting[15,33343536, while the BN-based models are more sophisticated. The latter have not been widely used for the probabilistic forecasting of drought events, notwithstanding they seem to have the ability of better forecasting droughts[13,18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The scarcity of water resources in mountain areas can distort normal water application patterns with among other effects, a negative impact on water supply and river ecosystems. Knowing the probability of droughts might help to optimize a priori the planning and management of the water resources in general and of the Andean watersheds in particular. This study compares Markov chain- (MC) and Bayesian network- (BN) based models in drought forecasting using a recently developed drought index with respect to their capability to characterize different drought severity states. The copula functions were used to solve the BNs and the ranked probability skill score (RPSS) to evaluate the performance of the models. Monthly rainfall and streamflow data of the Chulco River basin, located in Southern Ecuador, were used to assess the performance of both approaches. Global evaluation results revealed that the MC-based models predict better wet and dry periods, and BN-based models generate slightly more accurately forecasts of the most severe droughts. However, evaluation of monthly results reveals that, for each month of the hydrological year, either the MC- or BN-based model provides better forecasts. The presented approach could be of assistance to water managers to ensure that timely decision-making on drought response is undertaken.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Water
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    • "A probabilistic approach was also used in Cancelliere et al. (2007), which analytically derived the approximate probabilities for drought class transitions by assuming a multivariate normal distribution for the SPI time series and Bonaccorso et al. (2015) used probabilistic models that result from evaluating conditional probability of future SPI classes with respect to current SPI and NAO classes. "
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    ABSTRACT: A log-linear modelling for 3-dimensional contingency tables was used with categorical time series of SPI drought class transitions for prediction of monthly drought severity. Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) time series in 12- and 6-month time scales were computed for 10 precipitation time series relative to GPCC datasets with 2.5° spatial resolution located over Portugal and with 112 years length (1902-2014). The aim was modelling two-month step class transitions for the wet and dry seasons of the year and then obtain probability ratios - Odds - as well as their respective confidence intervals to estimate how probable a transition is compared to another. The prediction results produced by the modelling applied to wet and dry season separately, for the 6- and the 12-month SPI time scale, were compared with the results produced by the same modelling without the split, using skill scores computed for the entire time series length. Results point to good prediction performances ranging from 70 to 80% in the percentage of corrects (PC) and 50-70% in the Heidke skill score (HSS), with the highest scores obtained when the modelling is applied to the SPI12. The adding up of the wet and dry seasons introduced in the modelling brought improvements in the predictions, of about 0.9-4% in the PC and 1.3-6.8% in the HSS, being the highest improvements obtained in the SPI6 application.
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