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Drought forecasting in Luanhe River basin involving climatic indices

Ren, Weinan, Wang, Yixuan, Li, Jianzhu, Feng, Ping, Smith, Ronald J.
Theoretical and applied climatology 2017 v.130 no.3-4 pp. 1133-1148
atmospheric precipitation, basins, disasters, drought, economic development, livelihood, models, normal distribution, rain gauges, watersheds, China
Drought is regarded as one of the most severe natural disasters globally. This is especially the case in Tianjin City, Northern China, where drought can affect economic development and people’s livelihoods. Drought forecasting, the basis of drought management, is an important mitigation strategy. In this paper, we evolve a probabilistic forecasting model, which forecasts transition probabilities from a current Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) value to a future SPI class, based on conditional distribution of multivariate normal distribution to involve two large-scale climatic indices at the same time, and apply the forecasting model to 26 rain gauges in the Luanhe River basin in North China. The establishment of the model and the derivation of the SPI are based on the hypothesis of aggregated monthly precipitation that is normally distributed. Pearson correlation and Shapiro-Wilk normality tests are used to select appropriate SPI time scale and large-scale climatic indices. Findings indicated that longer-term aggregated monthly precipitation, in general, was more likely to be considered normally distributed and forecasting models should be applied to each gauge, respectively, rather than to the whole basin. Taking Liying Gauge as an example, we illustrate the impact of the SPI time scale and lead time on transition probabilities. Then, the controlled climatic indices of every gauge are selected by Pearson correlation test and the multivariate normality of SPI, corresponding climatic indices for current month and SPI 1, 2, and 3 months later are demonstrated using Shapiro-Wilk normality test. Subsequently, we illustrate the impact of large-scale oceanic-atmospheric circulation patterns on transition probabilities. Finally, we use a score method to evaluate and compare the performance of the three forecasting models and compare them with two traditional models which forecast transition probabilities from a current to a future SPI class. The results show that the three proposed models outperform the two traditional models and involving large-scale climatic indices can improve the forecasting accuracy.