Meteorological drought indicators are commonly used for agricultural drought contingency planning in Ethiopia. Agricultural droughts arise due to soil moisture deficits. While these deficits may be caused by meteorological droughts, the timing and duration of agricultural droughts need not coincide with the onset of meteorological droughts due to soil moisture buffering. Similarly, agricultural droughts can persist, even after the cessation of meteorological droughts, due to delayed hydrologic processes. Understanding the relationship between meteorological and agricultural droughts is therefore crucial. An evaluation framework was developed to compare meteorological- and agriculture-related drought indicators using a suite of exploratory and confirmatory tools. Receiver operator characteristics (ROC) was used to understand the covariation of meteorological and agricultural droughts. Comparisons were carried out between SPI-2, SPEI-2, and Palmer Z-index to assess intraseasonal droughts, and between SPI-6, SPEI-6, and PDSI for full-season evaluations. SPI was seen to correlate well with selected agriculture-related drought indicators, but did not explain all the variability noted in them. The correlation between meteorological and agricultural droughts exhibited spatial variability which varied across indicators. SPI is better suited to predict non-agricultural drought states than agricultural drought states. Differences between agricultural and meteorological droughts must be accounted for in order to devise better drought-preparedness planning.
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