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Regional frequency analysis of drought severity and duration in Karkheh River Basin, Iran using univariate L-moments method

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Drought is one of the natural disasters that causes a great damage to human life and natural ecosystems. The main differences are in the gradual effect of drought over a relatively long period, impossibility of accurately determining time of the beginning and end of drought, and geographical extent of the associated effects. On the other hand, lack of a universally accepted definition of drought has added to the complexity of this phenomenon. In the last decade, due to increasing frequency of drought in Iran and reduction of water resources, its consequences have become apparent and have caused problems for planners and managers. So in this research, regional frequency analysis using L-moments methods was performed to investigate severity and duration of Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), Standardized Evapotranspiration Index (SEI), Standardized Runoff Index (SRI), and Standardized Soil Moisture Index (SSI) and to study of meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological droughts in Karkheh River Basin in Iran. Using K-means clustering method, basin was divided into four homogeneous areas. Uncoordinated stations in each cluster were removed. The best regional distribution function was selected for each homogeneous region, and it was found that Pearson type (3) has the highest fit on the data set in the basin. Based on Hosking and Wallis heterogeneity test, Karkheh Basin with H1 < 1 was identified as acceptable homogeneous in all clusters. The results showed that hydrological drought occurs with a very short time delay in Karkheh River Basin after the meteorological drought, and two indicators show meteorological and hydrological drought conditions well. Agricultural drought occurs after meteorological and hydrological drought, respectively, and its severity and duration are less than the other indicators. Meteorological, hydrological, and agricultural droughts do not occur at the same time in all of the years. In general, the SPI drought index shows the most severe droughts compared with the other three indices. By this way, in 5- to 20-year return period with severity of 3SPI and in 20- to 100-year return period with severity of 7SPI, region IV or the western and northwestern areas of the basin has been affected by severe meteorological drought. By using the regional standardized quantities, it is possible to estimate the probability of drought in any part of the catchment that does not have sufficient data for hydrological studies.

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Data availability

Part of the data is received from the Meteorological Organization of Iran, another part of the data is received from the Iranian Water Resources Management Organization, and another part is received from ESA Website that all of them are clear and transparent.

Code availability

The codes are written by the original author and will be available with the consent of other authors and Isfahan University of Technology because the codes are related to PhD thesis.


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All research has been done as a PhD thesis at Isfahan University of Technology in Iran (PhD student: Saeideh Parvizi, supervisors: Prof. Saeid Eslamian and Prof. Mahdi Gheysari, advisors: Prof. AliReza Gohari and Prof. Saeid Soltani Kopai).

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by Saeideh Parvizi, Prof.Saeid Eslamian, Prof.Mahdi Gheysari, Prof.Alireza Gohari, and Prof.Saeid Soltani Kopai. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Saeideh Parvizi, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Saeideh Parvizi.

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Parvizi, S., Eslamian, S., Gheysari, M. et al. Regional frequency analysis of drought severity and duration in Karkheh River Basin, Iran using univariate L-moments method. Environ Monit Assess 194, 336 (2022).

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