• Investigation of hydrological drought using Cumulative Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI 30) in the eastern Mediterranean region (Damascus, Syria)

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    • Keywords


      Hydrological drought; precipitation; cumulative standardized precipitation index (SPI 30); eastern Mediterranean; Syria

    • Abstract


      The Eastern Mediterranean region has been exposed to drought episodes, which have been occurring morefrequently during the last decades. The objective of the present paper is to study the precipitation regimeof the Damascus (Mazzeh) meteoric station by analysing drought characteristics using the StandardizedPrecipitation Index (SPI) and comparing this with the drought in Cyprus. The cumulative droughtconcept is proposed to characterize long-term hydrologic drought, which affects the shallow groundwaterproductivity in terms of quantity and quality. Gamma probability distribution was fitted to the long-termannual precipitation in Damascus from 1918–1919 to 2007–2008 (n = 90 years). Generally, a decreasingtrend of 17% to the mean annual rainfall of Damascus and 13% to the mean annual rainfall of Cypruswas estimated between 1970 and 2000. The SPI identifies three major extended drought periods: (1)9 years of severe drought (1954–1963) with an average 20% precipitation deficit per year compared tothe mean. (2) 8 years of severe drought (1983–1991) with a 27% deficit per year on average. (3) 9 yearsof extreme drought (1993–2002) with a 31% deficit per year on average. The cumulative standardizedprecipitation index (SPI 30) demonstrates positive values for the first period and is indicative of havingno effect on the global water balance. SPI 30 exhibits sensitive equilibrium with near zero values / a nearzero value (±1.5) for the second period. For the third period, however, the SPI 30 decreases below −10indicating an extreme hydrological drought that has negative consequences on the recent groundwaterrecharge. It is required to develop and implement a sustainable groundwater management strategy toreduce long-terms drought risks. Generally, the SPI 30 in Cyprus is parallel to that in Damascus witha 3–5 year delay. Thus, the central zone of the Eastern Mediterranean region is facing big challengesand has been suffering from three decades of moderate to severe hydrological drought (SPI 30 = −5to −10) causing a severe decrease in springs discharges of the region. Therefore, in order to reduce theclimate change effects on water resources, it is necessary to adopt a sustainable proactive managementplan during the frequent severe droughts.

    • Author Affiliations


      Boulos Abou Zakhem1 Bassam Kattaa1

      1. Department of Geology, Atomic Energy Commission of Syria (AECS), Damascus, Syria.
    • Dates

  • Journal of Earth System Science | News

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