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Journal of Hydrology 224 100 114

Journal of Hydrology 224 100 114

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Application of fuzzy rule-based modeling technique to regionaldrought
R. Pongracz
, I. Bogardi
*, L. Duckstein
 Department of Meteorology, Eotvos Lorand University, Pazmany setany 1, Budapest, H-1117, Hungary
 Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, W359 Nebraska Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0531, USA
 Ecole Nationale du Genie Rural des Eaux et des Forets, 19, avenue du Maine, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France
Received 12 January 1999; accepted 19 August 1999
Fuzzy rule-based modeling is applied to the prediction of regional droughts (characterized by the modified Palmer index,PMDI)usingtwo forcing inputs, El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO)and large scale atmospheric circulation patterns (CPs)ina typical Great Plains state, Nebraska. Although, there is significant relationship between simultaneous monthly CP, laggedSouthern Oscillation Index (SOI)and PMDIin Nebraska, the weakness of the correlations, the dependence between CP and SOIand the relatively short data set limit the applicability of statistical modeling for prediction. Due to the above difficulties, a fuzzyrule-based approach is presented to predict PMDI from monthly frequencies of daily CP types and lagged prior SOIs. The fuzzyrules are defined and calibrated using a subset called the learning set of the observed time series of premises and PMDIresponse. Then, another subset, the validation set is used to check how the application of fuzzy rules reproduces the observedPMDI. In all its eight climate divisions and Nebraska itself, the fuzzy rule-based technique using the joint forcing of CP andSOI, is able to learn the high variability and persistence of PMDI and results in almost perfect reproduction of the empiricalfrequency distributions.
1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
 Fuzzy rule-based modeling; Drought; ENSO; Circulation pattern; Palmer index
1. Introduction
The purpose of this paper is to develop andapply fuzzy rule-based modeling to the prediction of regional droughts from the joint use of two forcinginputs or premises, namely El Nino/Southern Oscilla-tion (ENSO) and large scale atmospheric circulationpatterns (CPs) applied to the case study of a typicalGreat Plains state, Nebraska (Fig. 1).Drought is a normal part of the Great Plainsclimate, and it is different from other natural hazardsthat affect the region. Drought is a slow-onset, insi-dious hazard that is often well established before it isrecognized as a threat, taking months or years todevelop. Economic, environmental, and socialimpacts of drought can be enormous (WGA (1996)).The Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA, 1995) estimates annual drought losses inthe US to be US$6–8 billion. The 1987–89 droughtacross much of the US totaled an estimated US$39.4billion in direct and indirect losses, which is still the
Journal of Hydrology 224 (1999) 100–1140022-1694/99/$ - see front matter
1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.PII: S0022-1694(99)00131-6www.elsevier.com/locate/jhydrol* Corresponding author. Tel:
1-402-472-1726; fax:
 E-mail addresses:
 prita@caesar.elte.hu (R. Pongracz),ibogardi@unlinfo.unl.edu (I. Bogardi),duckstein@engref.fr (L. Duckstein)
36-1-209-0555/6615; fax:
33-1-4549-8931; fax:
largest amount for any natural disaster in the US(Riebsame et al., 1991). Environmental and socialimpacts of drought are harder to measure, but noless significant. In the Great Plains, droughts havealways played a major role. During the second half of the 19th Century, drought directly affectedsettlement patterns and population shifts as EuropeanAmericans moved westward from the eastern US. Inthis century, drought conditions during the 1930s, andthe associated dust storms, gave the Great Plains thenickname “the Dust Bowl”, and again desperate farm-ers fled the Plains for the West Coast. Droughts in the
 R. Pongracz et al. / Journal of Hydrology 224 (1999) 100–114
 101Fig. 1. Climate divisions in Nebraska. 1: Western Nebraska; 2: Northern Nebraska; 3: Northeastern Nebraska; 5: Central Nebraska; 6: EasternNebraska; 7: Southwestern Nebraska; 8: South-Central Nebraska; 9: Southeastern Nebraska.
Northeastern Nebraska
    P    M    D    I
Western Nebraska
    P    M    D    I
Fig. 2. PMDI time series (1946–1997) in climate divisions 1 and 3.
1950s and 1970s caused less social upheaval, but stillresulted in large agricultural losses in the Plains. Thelate 1980s drought severely affected the northernPlains, while the recent droughts had a major effectin the southern Plains, causing US$5 billion in 1996and US$7 billion in 1998 in losses in Texas (Chenaultand Parsons, 1998).Drought indices have become common tools tomeasure the intensity and spatial extent of droughts.One of the most commonly used climatic droughtindices in the US is the Palmer Drought SeverityIndex (PDSI) (Palmer, 1965), that is based on theprinciples of a balance between moisture supply anddemand when man-made changes are not considered.This index indicates the severity of a wet or dryspell—the greater the absolute value the more severethe dry or the wet spell. The PDSI was modified by theNational Weather Service Climate Analysis Center, toobtain another index (modified PDSI or PMDI) whichis more sensitive to the transition periods between dryand wet conditions (Heddinghause and Sabol, 1991).This paper considers the modified Palmer index. Themethodology is, however, applicable to any otherdrought indices such as the Standardized PrecipitationIndex (McKee et al., 1993) or the Bhalme–Mooleydrought index (Bogardi et al., 1994). This is an impor-tant point because it has been argued that PalmerDrought Indices have weaknesses that limit theirapplication as a drought monitoring tool (Alley,1984; Guttman et al., 1992). On the other hand,given the observed high variability and persistenceof PMDI (Fig. 2), it is a more challenging task toreproduce these features with any modelingtechnique.A long-term historical data set of PMDI valuesexists for climatic divisions around the US (Guttmanand Quayle, 1996). In the present paper, PMDI isevaluated during the summer half-year (April–September) in eight climate divisions in Nebraska(Fig. 1).Drought conditions are quite different in these divi-sions; Fig. 2 shows the observed time series for divi-sions 1 and 3 (Western and Northeastern Nebraska,respectively) during the 1946–97 period. Severaldrought periods can be identified according to thesedivisional PMDI time series. After the drought in the1930s the next most significant drought periodoccurred from 1952 through 1957 (Lawson et al.,1977) that is obvious in both Nebraskan regions(Fig. 2). Although, the climate of the different divi-sions varies considerably, the main patterns are simi-lar. The western part of Nebraska is colder and drier ingeneral, compared to the eastern part (Palecki, 1996),and also less variable in PMDI values.The question arizes if the monthly PMDIvalues are homogeneous. To this end, Fig. 3shows the cumulative frequency distribution of PMDI in division 1 for two periods: the trainingsets of 1946–62, 1978–94 and the validation setof 1963–77. The two frequency distributions aredifferent at the 0.1, but the same at the 0.05significance level, using the two sample Kolmo-gorov–Smirnov test. The other divisions behavesimilarly.
 R. Pongracz et al. / Journal of Hydrology 224 (1999) 100–114
102Fig. 3. Distributions of PMDI for the learning and validation sets in climate division 1.

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