Analysis of drought intensity and trends using the modified SPEI in South Korea from 1981 to 2010

Seungjong Bae, Sang Hyun Lee, Seung Hwan Yoo, Taegon Kim

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The aim of this study is to analyze the characteristics of drought, such as intensity and trends, based on SPEI (Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index) at 8 stations in South Korea from 1981 to 2010. The traditional SPEI is based on the Thornthwaite equation for estimating evapotranspiration; SPEI_th. However, a standard of agricultural water management in Korea suggests the FAO Penman-Monteith equation; SPEI_pm. Therefore, we analyzed the intensity, variability, and trends of drought using SPEI_th and SPEI_pm, respectively, and compared the results. SPEI_pm showed slightly more intensive drought rather than SPEI_th except for Chuncheon and Gwangju. In 5 stations-excluding Cheoncheon, Gwangju and Jinju-the cumulative probability that SPEI_pm was below -1.5 was significantly increased from 1981-1995 to 1996-2010. In addition, the northwest and southwest regions had higher intensity of 1-month droughts, and the central and southwest regions had a higher intensity of 3-month droughts. According to the Mann-Kendall test, there was a decreasing trend of 1-month SPEI during the fall season and 3-month SPEI during winter season.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number327
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2018


  • FAO Penman-Monteith
  • Korea
  • Mann-Kendall test
  • SPEI
  • Thornthwaite

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