Drought characterization: A systematic literature review

Majda Choukri, Mustapha Naimi, Mohamed Chikhaoui


This study examined the worsening severity of global droughts caused by climate change. However, the multiple definitions and varied range of drought indices pose challenges in effectively monitoring and assessing the prevalence and severity of droughts. This study aims to give a comprehensive overview of the various drought definitions found in the literature and how they have evolved based on their applications. Specifically, the focus was to shed light on the dynamic nature of drought characterization and offer insights into the factors that shaped its conceptualization over time. Within this context, this study explored three primary categories of drought indices: climatic, remote sensing, and composite. Each category was discussed in relation to its utility in specific fields, such as meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological drought assessments, along with an analysis of their strengths and limitations. Furthermore, this study presents modified meteorological drought indices that have been adapted to better monitor agricultural droughts. Additionally, the authors used geographic information systems to create a map showing the distribution of drought-related publications globally over the past decade. The findings showed that countries with arid and semi-arid climates are more actively involved in drought research, highlighting their particular interest and concern regarding the subject matter. The implications of this study emphasize the urgent need for immediate and coordinated efforts to address the escalating issue of droughts caused by climate change. By improving monitoring and assessment methods and focusing on tailored strategies in vulnerable regions, it is possible to mitigate the far-reaching consequences of drought and to build more resilient communities and ecosystems.


Climate change; Drought definitions; Drought indices; Resilience; Vulnerable regions

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