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A multi-scalar drought index sensitive to global warming: the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index – SPEI

AuthorsVicente Serrano, Sergio M. CSIC ORCID ; Beguería, Santiago CSIC ORCID ; López-Moreno, Juan I. CSIC ORCID
Drought index
Log-logistic distribution
Global warming
Standardized Precipitation Index
Palmer Drought Severity Index
Issue Date2010
PublisherAmerican Meteorological Society
CitationVicente SM, Beguería S, López-Moreno JI. A multi-scalar drought index sensitive to global warming: the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index – SPEI. Journal of Climate 23(7): 1696 (2010)
AbstractWe propose a new climatic drought index: the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI). The SPEI is based on precipitation and temperature data, and has the advantage of combining a multi-scalar character with the capacity to include the effects of temperature variability on drought assessment. The procedure to calculate the index is detailed, and involves a climatic water balance, the accumulation of deficit/surplus at different time scales, and adjustment to a Log-logistic probability distribution. Mathematically, the SPEI is similar to the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), but includes the role of temperature. As the SPEI is based on a water balance, it can be compared to the self-calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index (sc-PDSI). We compared time series of the three indices for a set of observatories with different climate characteristics, located in different parts of the world. Under global warming conditions only the sc-PDSI and SPEI identified an increase in drought severity associated with higher water demand due to evapotranspiration. Relative to the sc-PDSI, the SPEI has the advantage of being multi-scalar, which is crucial for drought analysis and monitoring.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2009JCLI2909.1
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