Drought is an extreme climate phenomenon that happens slowly and periodically threatens the environmental and socio-economic sectors. Iraq is one of the countries in the Middle East that has been dealing with serious drought-related issues in the 21st century. Here, we investigate meteorological drought across Iraq from 1948 to 2009 at 0.25° spatial resolution. The Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) has been utilized as a multi-scalar drought index accounting for the effects of temperature variability on drought. Four of the main characteristics of drought including extent, intensity, frequency and duration are studied and the associated spatiotemporal patterns are investigated for each case. Results revealed a significant drought exacerbation over Iraq during the period of 1998–2009. Two significant drought periods of 1998–1999 and 2007–2008 are identified during which severe to extreme droughts covered about 87% and 82% of Iraq, respectively. Analyzing the trends of drought intensity reveals that the central and southwestern parts of Iraq have experienced aggravated intensifying patterns among other regions. In general, droughts are found to be more frequent but shorter at the western, central and southeastern parts of Iraq.
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