Regional variations in the link between drought indices and reported agricultural impacts of drought

Parsons, David J.; Rey, Dolores; Tanguy, Maliko; Holman, Ian P.. 2019 Regional variations in the link between drought indices and reported agricultural impacts of drought. Agricultural Systems, 173. 119-129.

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Drought has wide ranging impacts on all sectors. Despite much effort to identify the best drought indicator to represents the occurrence of drought impacts in a particular sector, there is still no consensus among the scientific community on this. Using a more detailed and extensive impact dataset than in previous studies, this paper assesses the regional relationship between drought impacts occurrence in British agriculture and two of the most commonly used drought indices (SPI and SPEI). The largest qualitative dataset on reported drought impacts on British agriculture for the period 1975–2012 spanning all major recent droughts was collated. Logistic regression using generalised additive models was applied to investigate the association between drought indices and reported impacts at the regional level. Results show that SPEI calculated for the preceding six months is the best indicator to predict the probability of drought impacts on agriculture in the UK, although the variation in the response to SPEI6 differed between regions. However, this variation appears to result both from the method by which SPEI is derived, which means that similar values of the index equate to different soil moisture conditions in wet and dry regions, and from the variation in agriculture between regions. The study shows that SPEI alone has limited value as an indicator of agricultural droughts in heterogeneous areas and that such results cannot be usefully extrapolated between regions. However, given the drought sensitivity of agriculture, the integration of regional predictions within drought monitoring and forecasting would help to reduce the large on-farm economic damage of drought and increase the sector's resilience to future drought.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0308-521X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: agriculture, drought index, drought impacts, United Kingdom, SPEI
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Agriculture and Soil Science
Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 08 Mar 2019 15:20 +0 (UTC)

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