02 Oct 2020

02 Oct 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Drought monitoring and prediction in climate vulnerable Pakistan: Integrating hydrologic and meteorologic perspectives

Taimoor Akhtar1, Haris Mushtaq2, and Muhammad Zia-ur-Rahman Hashmi2 Taimoor Akhtar et al.
  • 1School of Engineering, University of Guelph, ON, Canada
  • 2Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), Islamabad, Pakistan

Abstract. Effective drought monitoring, prediction and early warning systems are crucial for management of human activities associated with water use in a climate affected world. In Pakistan, surface water flows predominantly originate from the transboundary Upper Indus sub-catchments of Chenab, Jhelum, Indus and Kabul rivers. Hence, impact of droughts manifested through water deficits in these catchments are strongly felt by downstream users. Use of different drought indicators is limited in Pakistan's operational drought monitoring system. Moreover, there is very limited prior literature that explores the use of multiple indicators for unearthing relationships between different drought types. This study aims to explore the relationship between meteorological and hydrological droughts in the Upper Indus catchments of Pakistan using the Standard Precipitation and Evaporation Index (SPEI) and the Standard Streamflow Index (SSI). Since there are no previous studies for the Indus that compare different distributions for SSI computation, we compare five distributions to adequately compute SSI values at catchment outlets. Our most crucial contribution in this study is analysis of seasonal cross-correlations and lagged cross-correlations between SSI and SPEI for the above-mentioned four catchments. The cross-correlation analysis shows strong lagged (with up to 2 lag months) cross-correlations between SPEI and SSI for Chenab, Jhelum and Kabul catchments in early Kharif months. These correlations may be used in operational drought monitoring and forecasting systems, and also in reservoir planning and operations (for Mangla resrvoir in Jhelum) in drought conditions. We strongly believe that the findings of this study can be used in future to collectively explore hydrological and meteorological drought perspectives in Pakistan and to successfully incorporate multiple indicators into operational drought management.

Taimoor Akhtar et al.

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Taimoor Akhtar et al.

Data sets

SPEI and SSI time-series datasets for the Indus Basin of Pakistan Taimoor Akhtar, Haris Mushtaq, and Muhammad Zia-ur-Rahman Hashmi

Taimoor Akhtar et al.


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Short summary
This study investigates the combined use of standard hydrologic and meteorologic indicators for monitoring drought characteristics in the Upper Indus Basin of Pakistan. Our results show that these indicators, and especially meteorologic indicators can be used in early operational drought monitoring within Kabul, Chenab and Jhelum basins. Moreover, the indicator datasets produced in this study are publicly available to facilitate future drought investigations in Upper Indus catchments.