Comparative evaluation of precipitation-temperature based drought indices (DIs): A case study of Moroccan Lower Sebou basin
Due to the lack of studies on drought in the Lower Sebou basin (LSB), the complexity of drought event and the difference in climate conditions. The identification of the most appropriate drought indices (DIs) to assess drought conditions has become a priority. Therefore, assessing the performance of different drought indices was considered in order to identify the universal drought indices that are well adapted to the LSB. Based on data availability, five DIs were used: Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), Standardized Precipitation and Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), Reconnaissance Drought Index (RDI), self-calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index (sc-PDSI) and Streamflow Drought Index (SDI). The DIs were calculated on an annual scale using monthly time series of precipitation, temperature and river flow from 1984-2016. Thornthwaite's method was used to calculate potential evapotranspiration (PET). Pearson's correlation (r) were analyzed. Furthermore, five decision criteria namely robustness, traceability, transparency, sophistication and scalability were used to evaluate the performance of these indices. The results proved the fact that SPI is suitable to detect the drought duration and intensity compared to other indices with high correlation coefficients especially in sub humid regions, knowing that it tends to give more results that are humid in stations with semi-arid climates. SPI, SPEI and RDI follow the same trend during the period studied. However, sc-PDSI appears to be the most sensitive to temperature and precipitation by overestimating the drought conditions. Eventually, the results of the performance evaluation criteria revealed that SPEI classified first (total score = 137) among other meteorological drought indices, followed by SPI, RDI and sc-PDSI.