Gauging the severity of the 2012 Midwestern U.S. drought for agriculture

Xiang Zhang, Chehan Wei, Renee Obringer, Deren Li, Nengcheng Chen, Dev Niyogi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Different drought indices often provide different diagnoses of drought severity, making it difficult to determine the best way to evaluate these different drought monitoring results. Additionally, the ability of a newly proposed drought index, the Process-based Accumulated Drought Index (PADI) has not yet been tested in United States. In this study, we quantified the severity of 2012 drought which affected the agricultural output for much of the Midwestern US. We used several popular drought indices, including the Standardized Precipitation Index and Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index with multiple time scales, Palmer Drought Severity Index, Palmer Z-index, VegDRI, and PADI by comparing the spatial distribution, temporal evolution, and crop impacts produced by each of these indices with the United States Drought Monitor. Results suggested this drought incubated around June 2011 and ended in May 2013. While different drought indices depicted drought severity variously. SPI outperformed SPEI and has decent correlation with yield loss especially at a 6 months scale and in the middle growth season, while VegDRI and PADI demonstrated the highest correlation especially in late growth season, indicating they are complementary and should be used together. These results are valuable for comparing and understanding the different performances of drought indices in the Midwestern US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number767
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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