A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

An evaluation of multi-scalar drought indices in Nevada and eastern California

Author(s): Daniel J. McEvoy, Justin L. Huntington, John T. Abatzoglou, Laura M. Edwards
Year Published: 2012

Nevada and eastern California are home to some of the driest and warmest climates, most mountainous regions, and fastest growing metropolitan areas of the United States. Throughout Nevada and eastern California, snow-dominated watersheds provide most of the water supply for both human and environmental demands. Increasing demands on finite water supplies have resulted in the need to better monitor drought and its associated hydrologic and agricultural impacts. Two multiscalar drought indices, the standardized precipitation index (SPI) and the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI), are evaluated over Nevada and eastern California regions of the Great Basin using standardized streamflow, lake, and reservoir water surface stages to quantify wet and dry periods. Results show that both metrics are significantly correlated to surface water availability, with SPEI showing slightly higher correlations over SPI, suggesting that the inclusion of a simple term for atmospheric demand in SPEI is useful for characterizing hydrologic drought in arid regions. These results also highlight the utility of multiscalar drought indices as a proxy for summer groundwater discharge and baseflow periods.

Citation: McEvoy DJ, Huntington JL, Abatzoglou JT, Edwards LM. 2012. An evaluation of multi-scalar drought indices in Nevada and eastern California. Earth Interactions 16(18), 18 p. DOI 10.1175/2012EI000447.1.
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Weather
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 15687
Record updated: May 16, 2018