Establishing and assessing the Integrated Surface Drought Index (ISDI) for agricultural drought monitoring in mid-eastern China

Jianjun Wu, Lei Zhou, Ming Liu, Jie Zhang, Song Leng, Chunyuan Diao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accurately monitoring the temporal, spatial distribution and severity of agricultural drought is an effective means to reduce the farmers' losses. Based on the concept of the new drought index called VegDRI, this paper established a new method, named the Integrated Surface Drought Index (ISDI). In this method, the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) was selected as the dependent variable; for the independent variables, 12 different combinations of 14 factors were examined, including the traditional climate-based drought indicators, satellite-derived vegetation indices, and other biophysical variables. The final model was established by fully describing drought properties with the smaller average error (relative error) and larger correlation coefficients. The ISDI can be used not only to monitor the main drought features, including precipitation anomalies and vegetation growth conditions but also to indicate the earth surface thermal and water content properties by incorporating temperature information. Then, the ISDI was used for drought monitoring from 2000 to 2009 in mid-eastern China. The results for 2006 (a typical dry year) demonstrate the effectiveness and capability of the ISDI for monitoring drought on both the large and the local scales. Additionally, the multiyear ISDI monitoring results were compared with the actual drought intensity using the agro-meteorological disaster data recorded at the agro-meteorological sites. The investigation results indicated that the ISDI confers advantages in the accuracy and spatial resolution for monitoring drought and has significant potential for drought identification in China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-410
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Data mining
  • Drought
  • Drought indices
  • ISDI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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