GEOSPATIAL APPROACH TO CATEGORIZE AND COMPARE THE AGRO-CLIMATOLOGICAL DROUGHTS OVER MARATHWADA REGION OF MAHARASHTRA, INDIA
The present study mainly focuses on the comparison and quantification of meteorological droughts with agricultural droughts to understand their relationship to the occurrences and intensities of droughts. This study is based on analysis of the changing agro-climatological drought conditions from the year 2001 to 2017, over the districts of Marathwada, which are known to be the most drought-prone regions of the Maharashtra, India. To quantify the drought severity, Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) from TRMM and Vegetation Condition Index (VCI) from MODIS datasets have been derived and compared. This study indicated that the years 2002, 2009, 2014 and 2015 were the most severe drought periods over Marathwada. Parts of Nanded, Aurangabad and Latur districts were the highest drought-affected areas from last 17 years, where the frequency of agricultural drought incidence was more than eight years. Over the districts of Hingoli and Parbhani, decreasing rainfall trends plus highly negative values of SPI (≤ −1.5) in the month of July shows a major concern for agricultural activities. Positive correlation-ship (41%) was noticed between SPI and VCI during the study period, but it was not statistically significant. In the year 2015, which was one of the intense drought years, it is noted that the agricultural drought was the most influencing drought type covering about 53% of the affected area. This study thus can help in identification of drought types and their intensities with spatial extent through an area specific interdisciplinary approach which in turn will help to develop region-specific drought mitigation and management strategies.