Drought frequency change: An assessment in northern India plains

Yan Ge, Ximing Cai, Tingju Zhu, Claudia Ringler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following the debate on whether drought has become more severe under climate change, this paper assesses drought frequency in northern and eastern India using two datasets of Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) (generated by Dai, 2013 and Sheffield et al., 2012). The univariate return period for three drought characteristics (duration, severity and peak intensity) is examined regarding whether drought has occurred with longer duration, higher severity and/or larger peak intensity. The spatial variation of those changes is analyzed through eight areas in the study region. The temporal and spatial comparisons based on the univariate return period show different change patterns of duration, severity and peak intensity in different areas. Generally, in the areas which plant wheat more than rice (areas 1 and 2), drought has been alleviated in duration and intensity after 1955; while in the areas which plant more rice than wheat (areas 3-8), drought have been aggravated in duration, severity and intensity (except for area 8, a coastal area). This spatial change pattern may imply potential crop pattern change, for example, switching from rice to wheat in areas 3-7. Furthermore, the bivariate return period for pairs of drought characteristics based on the copulas and considering correlation between the drought characteristics is examined to understand how bivariate return periods change over time and space. Finally, it is also found that one data set (Sheffield et al.) results in more severe, longer and more intense drought in most of the areas, especially for the drought events with long-return-periods than the other (Dai).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalAgricultural Water Management
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Climate change
  • Copulas
  • PDSI
  • Return period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Drought frequency change: An assessment in northern India plains'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this