The reconnaissance drought index: A method for detecting regional arid climatic variability and potential drought risk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The impact of climate variability on water demand and availability in drylands is substantial. Establishing methods to analyse precipitation (P) and evapotranspiration data sets may generate useful tools that assist in drought recognition and regional variations therein. The authors developed an index that simultaneous integrates both these variables in climate variability analysis. This study proposes the alpha and normalised forms of the reconnaissance drought index (RDI) as a single climatic index for the recognition of geographical areas with differing drought characteristics and potential weather variability. The prime application is that the RDI combines in a single index both P and potential evapotranspiration. A more consistent trend of climate variability can be identified by applying time series of different durations of RDI compared to using time series of P and potential evapotranspiration separately. The researchers explore this approach using meteorological data form 24 locations representing arid, semi-arid (Mediterranean (MD), tropical (TR), continental (CN)), and humid climatic conditions. The method is then tested through application to the semi-arid Lower Zab River basin (LZRB) in Iran and Iraq. Findings show that many regions such as the LZRB will face major droughts, indicating that there is an urgent requirement to advance water management strategies.


External organisations
  • University of Salford
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources


  • Climate change, Decision-making, Drought indicator, Hydrological processes, Trend detection, Water resources management
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-191
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Early online date2016 Apr 18
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sep
Publication categoryResearch