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Drought Indices: Aggregation Is Necessary Or Is It Only The Researcher's Choice?

Muhammad Abrar Faiz, Yongqiang Zhang, Ning Ma, Faisal Baig, Farah Naz, Yasir Niaz

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Abstract Drought is a natural phenomenon caused by extreme and persistent precipitation shortage. This shortfall causes impacts on hydrology, agriculture, and the economy of a country. Secondly, drought/dryness has certain unique characteristics (severity, duration) among natural hazards which makes it difficult to classify the persistent and subjective network of impacts. Drought classification is important for managing drought, allowing both quantitative evaluation and potential risk assessment planning. The simpler approach of drought indices has made it easier for various researchers and organizations to classify drought. Several drought indices have been proposed at the national and global level to characterize hydrological, meteorological and agricultural droughts. Until now, there has been no widely agreed drought index among researchers. Therefore, researchers are trying to modify and reconstruct a simple, complete, and robust drought index for effective use and planning of the management of water resources. Due to the complex terrestrial ecosystem, researchers have integrated multiple drought indices for evaluation and monitoring of regional drought conditions. The reviewed composite or aggregated indices revealed that researchers are mainly focused on regional climatic and environmental conditions, and differences of theoretical backgrounds while integrating a drought index. There is a lack of performance evaluation of these indices because usually the comparative analysis between the integrated index and earlier developed composite indices is not performed. Secondly, the developer researchers did not mention limitations such as data, which is considered a paramount issue while applying these indices in other regions. Therefore, there is still comprehensive work needed for the simple integration of drought indices for general applications.