Investigation of spatiotemporal variation of drought in Iran during the last five decades

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Graduate Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Research Institute for Earth Sciences, Iran, Tehran, Iran


     The present study was conducted to assess the changes in Iran's drought severity for the duration of 1964 to 2014. For this purpose, the spatial distribution of drought was annually and seasonally evaluated using climate data from 26 synoptic stations over Iranian territory based on standardized precipitation index (SPI). In this regard, the climate classification in the study area was performed applying Dermartone method. Moreover, the annual and seasonal values of SPI were calculated for the whole Iranian territory and each climate region. The SPI index for monotonic trend was calculated in each climate region utilizing Mann-Kendall and Theil Sen estimators. Our results implied that the minimum and maximum values of SPI (-3.86 and 2.89, respectively) appeared during spring in dry and Mediterranean climate regions. In addition, the maximum and minimum values of annual continuous SPI appeared in 1999-2004 and 1974-1982, respectively. The maximum and minimum values of seasonal continuous SPI also appeared for a duration of 9 years during summers respectively in the period of 1977 to 1985 and springs in the period of 2006 to 2014. The application of Mann-Kendall and Theil Sen estimator analyses revealed that 9 out of 26 stations had a significant decreasing SPI trend. Moreover, the annual and seasonal time series in moderately dry regions indicated a meaningfully decreasing trend in winter and annual SPI. Additionally, winter, spring, autumn and annual values of SPI had a meaningful decreasing trend in the Mediterranean climate region. In dry and very wet climate regions, no obvious trend was detected for the annual or seasonal SPI index.