, 2235–2247 (2008)Published online 19 November 2007 in Wiley InterScience(www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/hyp.6820
Spatial and temporal characteristics of droughts in thewestern part of Bangladesh
Department of Geography, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
Spatial and temporal characteristics of droughts in the western part of Bangladesh have been analysed. Standardizedprecipitation index method is used to compute the severity of droughts from the rainfall data recorded in 12 rainfall gaugestations for the period of 1961–1999. An artiﬁcial neural network is used to estimate missing rainfall data. GeographicInformation System (GIS) is used to map the spatial extent of droughts of different severities in multiple time scales. Criticalanalysis of rainfall is also carried to ﬁnd the minimum monsoon and dry months rainfall require in different parts of the studyarea to avoid rainfall deﬁcit. The study shows that the north and north-western parts of Bangladesh are most vulnerable todroughts. A signiﬁcant negative relationship between multiple ENSO index and rainfall is observed in some stations. Analysisof seasonal rainfall distribution, rainfall reliability and long-term rainfall trend is also conducted to aid prediction of futuredroughts in the area. Copyright
2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
droughts; rainfall; standardized precipitation index; GIS; Bangladesh
Received 14 June 2006; Accepted 1 May 2007
INTRODUCTIONDroughts are recurrent phenomena in the western part of Bangladesh. Since independence in 1971, the country hassuffered from nine droughts of major magnitude (Paul,1998). The impact of droughts was higher in the west-ern part of the country compared to other parts. In recentdecades, the hydro-climatic environment of north-westernBangladesh has been aggravated by environmental degra-dation and cross- country anthropogenic interventions(Banglapedia, 2003). Scientists have become increasinglyconcerned about the frequent occurrence of drought inwestern districts of Bangladesh, and this paper reportson studies of drought conditions in the western part of Bangladesh.Although droughts may occur at any time of the year,the impact of droughts during the pre-monsoon period ismore severe in Bangladesh. High yield variety Boro rice,which is cultivated in 88% of the potentially availableareas of the country, grows during this time. A deﬁcitof rainfall during this period causes huge damage toagriculture and to the economy of the country. As forexample, drought in 1995 led to a decrease in riceand wheat production of 3
ton in the country(Rahman and Biswas, 1995). This necessitated the importof huge amount of food grains to offset the shortagein national stocks and meet the national demand on anemergency basis (Paul, 1998). In this paper, pre-monsoondrought as well as droughts due to a deﬁcit of monsoonrainfall have been studied.
*Correspondence to: Shamsuddin Shahid, Department of Geography,Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa.E-mail: sshahid email@example.com
Drought is a dynamic phenomenon, which changesover time and space. Therefore, complete analysis of drought requires study of its spatial and temporal extents.Hydrological investigation over a large area requiresassimilation of information from many sites, each with aunique geographic location (Shahid
., 2000). Geo-graphic Information System (GIS) maintains the spatiallocation of sampling points, and provides tools to relatethe sampling data through a relational database. There-fore, it can be used effectively for the analysis of spatiallydistributed hydro-meteorological data and modelling. Inthe present paper, GIS is used for the spatial modellingof droughts in western Bangladesh at various time-scales.The common indicators of drought include meteoro-logical variables such as precipitation and evaporation,as well as hydrological variables such as stream ﬂow,groundwater levels, reservoir and lake levels, snow pack,soil moisture, etc. Based on these indicators, numer-ous indices have been developed to identify the sever-ity of drought conditions (Dracup
., 1980; Wilhiteand Glantz, 1985, 1987). However, most meteorolog-ical drought indices are based on precipitation data,e.g. Percentage of Normal Index (Banerji and Chabra,1964), Precipitation Deciles Index (Gibbs and Maher,1967), Bhalme–Mooley Drought Index (Bhalme andMooley, 1980), Standardized Precipitation Index (McKee
., 1993), Effective Drought Index (Byun and Wilhite,1999), etc. Among these methods, the Standardized Pre-cipitation Index (SPI) quantiﬁes the precipitation deﬁcitfor multiple time steps, and therefore facilitates the tem-poral analysis of droughts. It has been found that SPIis better able to show how drought in one region com-pares to drought in another region (Guttman, 1998). It
2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.