Due to the advantages of wide coverage and continuity, remotely sensed data are widely used for large-scale drought monitoring to compensate for the deficiency and discontinuity of meteorological data. However, few studies have focused on the capability of various remotely sensed drought indices (RSDIs) to represent the spatio–temporal variations of meteorological droughts. In this study, five RSDIs, namely the Vegetation Condition Index (VCI), Temperature Condition Index (TCI), Vegetation Health Index (VHI), Modified Temperature Vegetation Dryness Index (MTVDI), and Normalized Vegetation Supply Water Index (NVSWI), were calculated using monthly Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and land surface temperature (LST) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The monthly NDVI and LST data were filtered by the Savitzky–Golay (S-G) filtering method. A meteorological station-based drought index represented by the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) was compared with the RSDIs. Additionally, the dimensionless Skill Score (SS) method was adopted to identify the spatiotemporally optimal RSDIs for presenting meteorological droughts in the Yellow River basin (YRB) from 2000 to 2015. The results indicated that: (1) RSDIs revealed a decreasing drought trend in the overall YRB consistent with the SPEI except for in winter, and different variations of seasonal trends spatially; (2) the optimal RSDIs in spring, summer, autumn, and winter were VHI, TCI, MTVDI, and VCI, respectively, and the average correlation coefficient between the RSDIs and the SPEI was 0.577 (α = 0.05); and (3) different RSDIs have time lags of zero–three months compared with the meteorological drought index.
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