Developing a satellite-based combined drought indicator to monitor agricultural drought: a case study for Ethiopia Article

Bayissa, YA, Tadesse, T, Svoboda, M et al. (2019). Developing a satellite-based combined drought indicator to monitor agricultural drought: a case study for Ethiopia . GISCIENCE & REMOTE SENSING, 56(5), 718-748. 10.1080/15481603.2018.1552508

cited authors

  • Bayissa, YA; Tadesse, T; Svoboda, M; Wardlow, B; Poulsen, C; Swigart, J; Van Andel, SJ



  • Developing a robust drought monitoring tool is vital to mitigate the adverse impacts of drought. A drought monitoring system that integrates multiple agrometeorological variables into a single drought indicator is lacking in areas such as Ethiopia, which is extremely susceptible to this natural hazard. The overarching goal of this study is to develop a combined drought indicator (CDI-E) to monitor the spatial and temporal extents of historic agricultural drought events in Ethiopia. The CDI-E was developed by combining four satellite-based agrometeorological input parameters–the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), Land Surface Temperature (LST) anomaly, Standardized Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (stdNDVI) and Soil Moisture (SM) anomaly–for the period from 2001 to 2015. The method used to combine these indices is based on a quantitative approach that assigns a weight to each input parameter using Principal Component Analysis (PCA). The CDI-E results were evaluated using satellite-based gridded rainfall (3-month SPI) and crop yield data for 36 intra-country crop growing zones for a 15-year period (2001 to 2015). The evaluation was carried out for the main rainfall season, Kiremt (June-September), and the short rainfall season, Belg (February-May). The results showed that moderate to severe droughts were detected by the CDI-E across the food insecure regions reported by FEWS NET during Kiremt and Belg rainfall seasons. Relatively higher correlation coefficient values (r > 0.65) were obtained when CDI-E was compared with the 3-month SPI across the majority of Ethiopia. The spatial correlation analyses of CDI-E and cereal crop yields showed relatively good correlations (r > 0.5) in some of the crop growing zones in the northern, eastern and southwestern parts of the country. The CDI-E generally mapped the spatial and temporal patterns of historic drought and non-drought years and hence the CDI-E could potentially be used to develop an agricultural drought monitoring and early warning system in Ethiopia. Moreover, decision makers and donors may potentially use CDI-E to more accurately monitor crop yields across the food-insecure regions in Ethiopia.

publication date

  • July 4, 2019

published in

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 718

end page

  • 748


  • 56


  • 5