This study aims to assess the spatiotemporal characteristics of agricultural droughts in Bangladesh during 1981–2015 using the Effective Drought Index (EDI). Monthly precipitation data for 36 years (1980–2015) obtained from 27 metrological stations, were used in this study. The EDI performance was evaluated for four sub-regions over the country through comparisons with historical drought records identified by regional analysis. Analysis at a regional level showed that EDI could reasonably detect the drought years/events during the study period. The study also presented that the overall drought severity had increased during the past 35 years. The characteristics (severity and duration) of drought were also analyzed in terms of the spatiotemporal evolution of the frequency of drought events. It was found that the western and central regions of the country are comparatively more vulnerable to drought. Moreover, the southwestern region is more prone to extreme drought, whereas the central region is more prone to severe droughts. Besides, the central region was more prone to extra-long-term droughts, while the coastal areas in the southwestern as well as in the central and north-western regions were more prone to long-term droughts. The frequency of droughts in all categories significantly increased during the last quinquennial period (2011 to 2015). The seasonal analysis showed that the north-western areas were prone to extreme droughts during the Kharif
(wet) and Rabi
(dry) seasons. The central and northern regions were affected by recurring severe droughts in all cropping seasons. Further, the most significant increasing trend of the drought-affected area was observed within the central region, especially during the pre-monsoon (March–May) season. The results of this study can aid policymakers in the development of drought mitigation strategies in the future.
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