An understanding of drought occurrences and their characteristics such as intensity, duration, frequency, and areal coverage, and their variations on different spatial scales, is crucial to plan for droughts in different regions and in different sized areas. This study investigated the variations of spatio-temporal characteristics of droughts under selected spatial scales: National (Contiguous U.S.), regional (High Plains), state (North Dakota, ND), climatic division (South Central, ND), and county (Grant, ND). Weekly drought area coverage data for the period spanning the years 2000–2014 from the U.S. Drought Monitor of the National Drought Mitigation Center were used. The study captured the areal coverages and occurrence frequency of droughts with different intensity levels for the years 2000 to 2014 for the contiguous U.S. Year to year variability in spatial distribution of the areal coverages of droughts with different intensity levels were also analysed. The study further investigated how the weekly percentage area under different intensity categories varied along time, and extracted the spatio-temporal characteristics of different drought intensity categories at different spatial scales. The study identified areas that are frequently affected by droughts of different intensity categories in the U.S. at the national scale, and reported the spatial scale dependence of drought characteristics.
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