Title: Evaluating the Standardized Precipitation Index as an early predictor of seasonal vegetation production anomalies in the Sahel
Citation: REMOTE SENSING LETTERS vol. 8 no. 4 p. 301-310
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC102098
ISSN: 2150-704X
URI: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2150704X.2016.1264020
DOI: 10.1080/2150704X.2016.1264020
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: In this study we analyse the performance and timeliness of a widely used meteorological drought index, the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), in anticipating deviations from mean seasonal vegetation productivity in the Sahel. Gridded rainfall estimates are used to compute the SPI for different time scales (one to six months) whereas the z-score of the cumulative value of the Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation over the growing season (zCFAPAR) is used as a proxy of seasonal productivity. Results show that the strength of the link varies in space as a function of both the SPI time-scale and the timing of the SPI calculation with respect to the vegetative season’s progress. We propose an operational strategy to select per grid cell the SPI time scale and computation time with the highest correlation with zCFAPAR at different moments of the season. The linear relationship between SPI and zCFAPAR is significant for a fraction of the study area ranging from 32 to 66% (at 0 and 75% of the seasonal progress). For these areas, the selected SPI explains on average about 40% of the variability of zCFAPAR and may thus assist in the earlier identification of agricultural drought.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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