Comparison of Meteorological, Hydrological and Agricultural Drought Responses to Climate Change and Uncertainty Assessment

Kai Duan, Yadong Mei

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38 Scopus citations


A comparison study of meteorological, hydrological and agricultural drought responses to climate change resulting from different General Circulation Models (GCMs), emission scenarios and hydrological models is presented. Drought variations from 1961–2000 to 2061–2100 in Huai River basin above Bengbu station in China are investigated. Meteorological drought is recognized by the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) while hydrological drought and agricultural drought are indexed with a similar standardized procedure by the Standardized Runoff Index (SRI) and Standardized Soil Water Index (SSWI). The results generally approve that hydrological and agricultural drought could still pose greater threats to local water resources management in the future, even with a more steady background to meteorological drought. However, the various drought responses to climate change indicate that uncertainty arises in the propagation of drought from meteorological to hydrological and agricultural systems with respect to alternative climates. The uncertainty in hydrological model structure, as well as the uncertainties in GCM and emission scenario, are aggregated to the results and lead to much wider variations in hydrological and agricultural drought characteristics. Our results also reveal that the selection of hydrological models can induce fundamental differences in drought simulations, and the role of hydrological model uncertainty may become dominating among the three uncertainty sources while recognizing frequency of extreme drought and maximum drought duration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5039-5054
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number14
StatePublished - Oct 15 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work is supported by the Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (51239004). The authors are grateful to Prof. Lihua Xiong in Wuhan University and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments that substantially improved the manuscript.


  • Climate change impact
  • Drought assessment
  • Huai river basin
  • Uncertainty

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