Defining and monitoring drought using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) in India: An opportunity for climate change adaptation

Event: Proceedings of International Symposium on Promoting Synergies Among Adaptation Networks in the Asia-Pacific Region
Date: 17 January 2011
Conference Proceeding
Defining and monitoring drought using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) in India: An opportunity for climate change adaptation

India is one of the highly drought prone countries in the world. Due to the monsoon system, the entire agriculture and related economic activities depend on a short window of rainy season. Available climate change projections indicate high probability for prolonged and frequent droughts for India. Drought monitoring is crucial to continuously plan preparedness activities and mitigate the impending drought impacts contributing to greater adaptive capacity. However, in absence of proper drought monitoring tools, most of the times the governments fail to take precautionary measures. Such lack of appropriate decision support systems has even more significant negative impact in terms of climate change adaptation. In this paper, the application of Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) in drought monitoring is discussed by taking the example of two drought prone states of Orissa and Gujarat in India. The SPI could able to detect droughts of different durations and intensities based on the classification provided. It was also possible to compare Orissa and Gujarat states by using SPI. Orissa state recorded most number of droughts when compared to the Gujarat according to the classification of SPI. SPI based drought monitoring system has been suggested covering different geographical scales that will help various stakeholders to monitor the drought conditions and take up preparedness activities. SPI can also be used in combination with other monitoring tools including the remote sensing either in developing a composite drought monitoring index or to compare the outputs as a check.

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