Characteristics of Observed Meteorological Drought and its Linkage with Low-Level Easterly Wind Over India

  • Sunny Kumar
  • Praveen Kumar
  • Archisman Barat
  • Ashutosh K. Sinha
  • P. Parth SarthiEmail author
  • Prabhat Ranjan
  • K. K. Singh


Meteorological drought in India arises due to significant deficiency of rainfall for abnormal periods over an area. The large spatial and temporal variability of Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR) over the Eastern Gangetic Plain (EGP) of India triggers meteorological drought (further leading to agricultural and hydrological drought), with widespread effects on both agricultural production and water resources over the area. To assess meteorological drought over agro-climatic zones of the states of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar and West Bengal (WB) in the EGP, high-resolution gridded rainfall data (1961–2013) at resolution of 0.25° × 0.25° of India Meteorological Department (IMD) and u, v wind at 850 hPa at resolution of 0.25 × 0.25° of ERA-40 (1961–2002) of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is considered. Over the agro-climatic zones, the seasonality index (SI) of summer monsoon rainfall, spatial and temporal distribution of the 4-month Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI-4), frequency and probability of drought occurrence is estimated. The severe drought-prone zones are found to be over agro-climatic zones 6, 8 and 10 of UP; 1, 2 and 3B of Bihar with more than 50% probability of drought occurrence. At a 95% confidence level, a significant decrease in rainfall (for the period 1961–2013) is found over these zones. Over the EGP, a low-level easterly wind at 850 hPa in July is shifted towards foothills of the Himalaya, while in August it is weakened during drought conditions. This low-level easterly wind may be responsible for less moisture incursion over the Gangetic Plain from the Bay of Bengal, and may be the probable cause of less rainfall over the EGP, leading to meteorological drought.


Meteorological drought Eastern Gangetic Plain agro-climatic zone standardized precipitation index seasonality index cluster analysis 



This research paper is an outcome of the research project supported by a grant (letter No: SB/S4/AS-138/2014) from the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India. The authors are thankful to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) for rainfall data and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF- for wind data. We thank two anonymous reviewers for making valuable comments and suggestions.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest, and all authors have given consent for publication in the journal.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesCentral University of South BiharGayaIndia
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceCentral University of South BiharGayaIndia
  3. 3.Agromet, India Meteorological DepartmentNew DelhiIndia

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