Articles | Volume 18, issue 5
Research article
27 May 2014
Research article |  | 27 May 2014

Long-term precipitation forecast for drought relief using atmospheric circulation factors: a study on the Maharloo Basin in Iran

S. K. Sigaroodi, Q. Chen, S. Ebrahimi, A. Nazari, and B. Choobin

Abstract. Long-term precipitation forecasts can help to reduce drought risk through proper management of water resources. This study took the saline Maharloo Lake, which is located in the north of Persian Gulf, southern Iran, and is continuously suffering from drought disaster, as a case to investigate the relationships between climatic indices and precipitation. Cross-correlation in combination with stepwise regression technique was used to determine the best variables among 40 indices and identify the proper time lag between dependent and independent variables for each month. The monthly precipitation was predicted using an artificial neural network (ANN) and multi-regression stepwise methods, and results were compared with observed rainfall data. Initial findings indicated that climate indices such as NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation), PNA (Pacific North America) and El Niño are the main indices to forecast drought in the study area. According to R2, root mean square error (RMSE) and Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency, the ANN model performed better than the multi-regression model, which was also confirmed by classification results. Moreover, the model accuracy to forecast the rare rainfall events in dry months (June to October) was higher than the other months.

From the findings it can be concluded that there is a relationship between monthly precipitation anomalies and climatic indices in the previous 10 months in Maharloo Basin. The highest and lowest accuracy of the ANN model were in September and March, respectively. However, these results are subject to some uncertainty due to a coarse data set and high system complexity. Therefore, more research is necessary to further elucidate the relationship between climatic indices and precipitation for drought relief. In this regard, consideration of other climatic and physiographic factors (e.g., wind and physiography) can be helpful.