Developing a Combined Drought Index to Monitor Agricultural Drought in Sri Lanka Academic Article uri icon


  • Developing an agricultural drought monitoring index through integrating multiple input variables into a single index is vital to facilitate the decision-making process. This study aims to develop an agricultural drought index (agCDI) to monitor and characterize the spatial and temporal patterns of drought in Sri Lanka. Long-term (1982 to 2020) remote sensing and model-based agroclimatic input parametersnormalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), land surface temperature (LST), 3-month precipitation z-score (stdPCP), and evaporative demand drought index (EDDI)were used to develop agCDI. The principal component analysis (PCA) approach was employed to qualitatively determine the grid-based percentage contribution of each input parameter. The agCDI was apparently evaluated using an independent dataset, including the crop yield for the major crop growing districts and observed streamflow-based surface runoff index (SRI) for the two main crop growing seasons locally, called Yala (April to September) and Maha (October to March), using 20-years of data (from 2000 to 2020). The results illustrate the good performance of agCDI, in terms of predominantly capturing and characterizing the historic drought conditions in the main agricultural producing districts both during the Yala and Maha seasons. There is a relatively higher chance of the occurrence of moderate to extreme droughts in the Yala season, compared to the Maha season. The result further depicts that relatively good correlation coefficient values (> 0.6) were obtained when agCDI was evaluated using a rice crop yield in the selected districts. Although the agCDI correlated well with SRI in some of the stations (>0.6), its performance was somehow underestimated in some of the stations, perhaps due to the time lag of the streamflow response to drought. In general, agCDI showed its good performance in capturing the spatial and temporal patterns of the historic drought and, hence, the model can be used to develop agricultural drought monitoring and an early warning system to mitigate the adverse impacts of drought in Sri Lanka.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Bayissa, Y., Srinivasan, R., Joseph, G., Bahuguna, A., Shrestha, A., Ayling, S., Punyawardena, R., & Nandalal, K.

complete list of authors

  • Bayissa, Yared||Srinivasan, Raghavan||Joseph, George||Bahuguna, Aroha||Shrestha, Anne||Ayling, Sophie||Punyawardena, Ranjith||Nandalal, KDW

publication date

  • October 2022