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Climate 2016, 4(2), 27; doi:10.3390/cli4020027

Investigating the Temporal Variability of the Standardized Precipitation Index in Lebanon

1
Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, University of Balamand, Koura 1300, Lebanon
2
Land and Natural Resources Program, Institute of the Environment, University of Balamand, Koura 1300, Lebanon
3
Litani River Basin Management Support Program, Litani River Authority, Beirut 1107, Lebanon
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Christina Anagnostopoulou
Received: 25 January 2016 / Revised: 5 May 2016 / Accepted: 10 May 2016 / Published: 13 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Extremes: Observations and Impacts)
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Abstract

The impact of global climate change on Lebanon’s society, environment, and economy is expected to be tremendous. Indices have been developed to help in the identification and monitoring of drought and characterization of its severity. In this context, this work aimed at assessing the temporal variability of the Standardized Precipitation Index in Lebanon for improved understanding of drought occurrence. This is expected to help in mitigation and response actions to future drought circumstances across the country. The methodology of work involved the calculation of the Standardized Precipitation Index over different time series from four regions across the country using both the Variability Analysis of Surface Climate Observations (VASClimO) gridded rainfall dataset for the period 1951–2000 and the European rainfall dataset E-OBS for the period 1950–2014. In general, higher precipitation values were recorded by the VASClimO dataset than those coming from the E-OBS dataset. Intra-annual precipitation changes showed increasing precipitation starting in September-October and decreasing precipitation starting in February. The VASClimO dataset showed a 50% increase in the frequency of severe drought conditions, while the E-OBS dataset indicated a 60% increase in the frequency of moderate drought conditions. In addition, it was observed that the winter of 2014, characterized by extreme drought conditions, was the driest in the past 56 years. Although specific years were commonly characterized by severe to extreme drought conditions with the use of both datasets, considerable differences between the two datasets were observed with respect to the identification of the degree of wet and dry conditions for some other years. Overall, trend lines for the Standardized Precipitation Index values, as derived from VASClimO and E-OBS datasets, commonly point to a relatively slight increase in drought conditions mainly in the winter-spring season; however, the situation on the ground could vary greatly given that many other environmental factors (e.g., changes in land cover) may also play an important role in affecting drought conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought; climate variability; VASClimO; E-OBS; Standardized Precipitation Index drought; climate variability; VASClimO; E-OBS; Standardized Precipitation Index
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Mahfouz, P.; Mitri, G.; Jazi, M.; Karam, F. Investigating the Temporal Variability of the Standardized Precipitation Index in Lebanon. Climate 2016, 4, 27.

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