Towards linking drought indicators and impacts for Australia


Drought is a complex natural hazard with severe environmental and socio‐economic impacts. Australia has been strongly affected by drought; the ‘‘Millennium Drought’’ (2001–2009) can be described as the worst drought on record for southeast Australia. To improve drought monitoring and early warning (M&EW) systems we need to better understand the link between physical drought indicators (e.g. Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), Standardized Precipitation Evaporation Index (SPEI), streamflow and groundwater indicators) and impacts on the environment, the society, and the economy. Due to the complexity of how a prolonged precipitation deficit propagates though the hydrological cycle and interacts with environmental and socio‐economic factors this is a challenging task. While there is a vast range of published drought indicators, there is little consensus on the most appropriate indicators for drought M&EW. This study is a first step into the direction of linking drought indicators with impacts for Australia to identify suitable indicators for drought M&EW.


This study is a first step into the direction of linking drought indicators with impacts for Australia. The goal is to better understand how drought affects different domains of the hydrological cycle and different sectors of human activity in Australia (for example, recognizing meteorological – agricultural – hydrological – socioeconomic drought) and to identify suitable indicators for drought M&EW.

Daten und Methoden

• Exploration of the linkage between drought indicators and impacts via visualization, correlation analysis, and extraction of indicator thresholds for impact occurrence; a similar study has been conducted for Germany; the methodology can be adapted from this study (codes available)

• Data on drought indicators and impacts needs to be collected and processed

• Drought indicator data: e.g. calculation of SPI and SPEI (, SPI code available)

• Drought impact data:(text-based) impact data needs to be collected (see European Drought Impact report Inventory (EDII) ); remotely sensed vegetation indices could support text-based impact report data Anforderungen


• Working with large datasets for processing drought indicator data; programming skills required (MATLAB,R)

• Willingness to collect drought impact data for Australia (search for text-based reports and assemblage into database; good English knowledge required)

• Application of GIS


Sophie Bachmair, Kerstin Stahl




The study will be conducted within the international DrIVER project (

thesis/drought_m.txt · Zuletzt geändert: 2017/01/21 13:22 von mweiler