Drought propagation and construction of a comprehensive drought index based on the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and empirical Kendall distribution function ( KC′): a case study for the Jinta River basin in northwestern China

Liang, Zheng; Su, Xiaoling; Feng, Kai

Monitoring drought and mastering the laws of drought propagation are the basis for regional drought prevention and resistance. Multivariate drought indicators considering meteorological, agricultural and hydrological information may fully describe drought conditions. However, series of hydrological variables in cold and arid regions that are too short or missing make it difficult to monitor drought. This paper proposed a method combining Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and empirical Kendall distribution function (inline-formula M2inlinescrollmathml K normal C 18pt12ptsvg-formulamathimgb12dcbebed1d573c0ceb9d95e56f5d97 nhess-21-1323-2021-ie00003.svg18pt12ptnhess-21-1323-2021-ie00003.png ) for drought monitoring. The SWAT model, based on the principle of runoff formation, was used to simulate the hydrological variables of the drought evolution process. Three univariate drought indexes, namely meteorological drought (standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index; SPEI), agricultural drought (standardized soil moisture index; SSI) and hydrological drought (standardized streamflow drought index; SDI), were constructed using a parametric or non-parametric method to analyze the propagation time from meteorological drought to agricultural drought and hydrological drought. The inline-formula M3inlinescrollmathml K normal C 18pt12ptsvg-formulamathimg0ee32926c403c70fa774b4f743677c8d nhess-21-1323-2021-ie00004.svg18pt12ptnhess-21-1323-2021-ie00004.png was used to build a multivariable comprehensive meteorology–agriculture–hydrology drought index (MAHDI) that integrated meteorological, agricultural and hydrological drought to analyze the characteristics of a comprehensive drought evolution. The Jinta River in the inland basin of northwestern China was used as the study area. The results showed that agricultural and hydrological drought had a seasonal lag time from meteorological drought. The degree of drought in this basin was high in the northern and low in the southern regions. MAHDI proved to be acceptable in that it was consistent with historical drought records, could catch drought conditions characterized by univariate drought indexes, and capture the occurrence and end of droughts. Nevertheless, its ability to characterize mild and moderate droughts was stronger than severe droughts. In addition, the comprehensive drought conditions showed insignificant aggravating trends in spring and summer and showed insignificant alleviating trends in autumn and winter and at annual scales. The results provided theoretical support for the drought monitoring in the Jinta River basin. This method provided the possibility for drought monitoring in other watersheds lacking measured data.

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Liang, Zheng / Su, Xiaoling / Feng, Kai: Drought propagation and construction of a comprehensive drought index based on the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and empirical Kendall distribution function (KC′): a case study for the Jinta River basin in northwestern China. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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