Articles | Volume 16, issue 8
Research article
28 Aug 2012
Research article |  | 28 Aug 2012

Are drought occurrence and severity aggravating? A study on SPI drought class transitions using log-linear models and ANOVA-like inference

E. E. Moreira, J. T. Mexia, and L. S. Pereira

Abstract. Long time series (95 to 135 yr) of the 12-month time scale Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) relative to 10 locations across Portugal were studied with the aim of investigating if drought frequency and severity are changing through time. Considering four drought severity classes, time series of drought class transitions were computed and later divided into several sub-periods according to the length of SPI time series. Drought class transitions were calculated to form a 2-dimensional contingency table for each sub-period, which refer to the number of transitions among drought severity classes. Two-dimensional log-linear models were fitted to these contingency tables and an ANOVA-like inference was then performed in order to investigate differences relative to drought class transitions among those sub-periods, which were considered as treatments of only one factor. The application of ANOVA-like inference to these data allowed to compare the sub-periods in terms of probabilities of transition between drought classes, which were used to detect a possible trend in droughts frequency and severity. Results for a number of locations show some similarity between alternate sub-periods and differences between consecutive ones regarding the persistency of severe/extreme and sometimes moderate droughts. In global terms, results do not support the assumption of a trend for progressive aggravation of drought occurrence during the last century, but rather suggest the existence of long duration cycles.