Drought Science and Indices: A Review of the Literature

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 Droughts are natural phenomena that occur throughout history. The literature on drought is extensive. In an effort to educate the agricultural industry about the costs and benefits of planning for and managing drought risk, AAFRD staff assembled a database of references to scientific literature, government documents, web sites, and expertise that describes the technical, environmental and economic aspects of drought.

Scientific studies of drought that use objective and standardized methods, language, and measures have been identified by selective review of the larger body of drought literature. Over 1200 articles and reports were found to contain useful information concerning drought indices, aspects, and indicators.

Selected references included here are arranged into groups describing similar topics. Choose a group name in order to display a bibliography of references on that topic.

AlbertaLiterature written or published in Alberta
Canadian thesesLiterature describing thesis research in Canada on drought
Decision supportsLiterature describing the tools and systems available to help in deciding when and how degrees or levels of drought are declared in various jurisdictions
Drought Indices
DecilesLiterature describing the use of rainfall deciles as an indicator of drought
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) & Remote sensingLiterature describing techniques of remote sensing and the use of satellite imagery to study and depict drought. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, or NDVI, is one measure of vegetation condition and monitoring for drought severity
Palmer Drought Index (PDI, PDSI, PHDI), and Enhancements)Literature describing the suite of indices for measuring drought that are collectively known as "PDI"; including the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index (PHDI), and modifications made more recently to account for and include factors such as soil moisture conditions, snowmelt, runoff and river basin drainage
Rainfall Anomaly Indices (RAI)Literature describing rainfall anomalies and the impact of extreme precipitation events
Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI)Literature describing the Standardized Precipitation Index, or SPI
Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI)Literature describing the Surface Water Supply Index, which accounts for snowpack and snowmelt runoff, as well as for precipitation, streamflow, and reservoir storage as drought factors
Versatile Soil Moisture Budget (VSMB)Literature describing simulation and water-modelling studies using the Versatile Soil Moisture Budget model
Drought planning / Action plansLiterature on the risks of drought, studies emphasizing management practices, and plans for taking action against impacts of drought
General ResourcesLiterature dealing with general information about drought
History of Drought on the PrairiesLiterature describing historical droughts, primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan
International SourcesLiterature describing the scientific study of drought elsewhere in the world of relevance for Alberta
Proxy data studies.Literature describing studies that have used proxy data in place of real-time measures to investigate long-term and re-occurring drought over the centuries
Web sites of interestLinks to important web sites dealing with drought reporting
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Ralph Wright.
This document is maintained by Laura Thygesen.
This information published to the web on November 14, 2002.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 9, 2015.