Spatial and temporal assessment of drought in the Northern highlands of Ethiopia

T.G. Gidey, A. van der Veen, B.H.P. Maathuis

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With the development of global changes, researchers from all over the world increasingly pay attention to drought detection, and severe droughts that may have resulted from climate change. In this paper, spatial and temporal variability of drought is evaluated based on precipitation data and remotely sensed images. The standard precipitation index (SPI) and vegetation condition index (VCI) are used to evaluate the spatial and temporal characteristics of meteorological and vegetative drought in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. Based on the drought critical values of SPI and VCI defining drought, the spatial and temporal extent of droughts in the study area is established. We processed 396 decadal images in order to produce the multi-temporal VCI drought maps. The results of the SPI and VCI analysis reveal that the eastern and southern zones of the study region suffered a recurrent cycle of drought over the last decade. Results further show that there is a time lag between the period of the peak VCI and precipitation values obtained from the meteorological stations across the study area. A significant agreement was observed between VCI values with the current plus last two-months of precipitation. The study demonstrates the utility of the vegetation condition index in semi-arid and arid regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-321
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation (JAG)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • IR-83743
  • NDVI
  • Remote sensing
  • METIS-293802
  • VCI
  • Time lag
  • Precipitation
  • Vegetation


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