Trend analysis of rainfall and drought over the Oum Er-Rbia River Basin in Morocco during 1970–2010

  • Hamza OuatikiEmail author
  • Abdelghani Boudhar
  • Aziz Ouhinou
  • Abdelkrim Arioua
  • Mohammed Hssaisoune
  • Hafsa Bouamri
  • Tarik Benabdelouahab
Original Paper


In a context of water scarcity in Morocco, the proper management of water resources is becoming a national priority. However, the strong spatiotemporal fluctuation of rainfall, considered as the first source of surface water intakes, complicates attempts to work on such a long-term purpose. In this work, we aim to provide an analysis of rainfall variability over the Oum Er-Rbia (OER) River basin, one of the most important basins in Morocco. For this, we assessed the annual rainfall deficit using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and then analyzed trends at annual, seasonal, and monthly bases using the Mann–Kendall test. The study was conducted on a set of data from 15 stations over a 40-years period (1970–2010). The results show that the OER River basin tends towards drier conditions. An abundance of deficit seasons has been noticed (50 to 63% of the seasons), especially after 1980–1981. Since then, the basin has known several deficit periods, sometimes of great spatial extent such as those that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. Moreover, during the study period, the total annual rainfall has demonstrated a general decreasing tendency. The latter was mainly induced by changes in winter and spring months, which experienced some of the largest decline rates with a special abundant significance during the month of April.


Oum Er-Rbia Semi-arid Rainfall Drought Trend Mann–Kendall 



The authors would like to thank the Oum Er-Rbia Hydraulic Basin Agency and the Regional Office for Agricultural Development of Tadla for providing the observed rainfall data that we used in this study.


  1. Abahous H, Ronchail J, Sifeddine A, Kenny L, Bouchaou L (2017) Trend and change point analyses of annual precipitation in the Souss-Massa Region in Morocco during 1932–2010. Theor Appl Climatol 134:1–11. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ABHOER (Agence du Bassin Hydraulique de l’Oum Er-Rbia) (2017) Assistance technique pour l’intégration et l’évaluation des risques climatiques dans la planification et le développement des ressources en eau du bassin de l’Oum Er-Rbia - Maroc. Rabat, MarocGoogle Scholar
  3. ABHOER (Agence du Bassin Hydraulique de l’Oum Er-Rbia) (2012) Etude du plan directeur d’aménagement intégré des ressources en eau du bassin de l’Oum-Rr-Rbia et des bassins côtiers atlantiques. Rabat, MarocGoogle Scholar
  4. Ahmad I, Tang D, Wang T, Wang M, Wagan B (2015) Precipitation trends over time using Mann-Kendall and Spearman’s rho tests in Swat river basin, Pakistan. Adv Meteorol 2015:15. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Balaghi R, Jlibene M, Tychon B, Mrabet R (2007) Gestion du risque de sécheresse agricole au Maroc. Sécheresse 18:1–8. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bates B, Kundzewicz ZW, Wu S, Palutikof J (2008) Climate change and water, Technical Paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva, Switzerland. Available at
  7. Benabdelouahab T, Balaghi R, Hadria R, Lionboui H, Minet J, Tychon B (2015) Monitoring surface water content using visible and short-wave infrared SPOT-5 data of wheat plots in irrigated semi-arid regions. Int J Remote Sens 36:4018–4036. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bouaicha R, Benabdelfadel A (2010) Variabilité et gestion des eaux de surface au Maroc. Sécheresse 21:325–326Google Scholar
  9. Bouchaou L, Tagma T, Boutaleb S, Hssaisoune M, ZEA EM (2011) Climate change and its impacts on groundwater resources in Morocco: the case of the Souss-Massa basin. In: Treidel H, Martin-Bordes JL, Gurdak JJ (eds) Climate change effects on groundwater resources: a global synthesis of findings and recommendations, 1st edn. Taylor & Francis, London, pp 129–144Google Scholar
  10. Boyles RP, Raman S (2003) Analysis of climate trends in North Carolina (1949-1998). Environ Int 29:263–275. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Burns DA, Klaus J, McHale MR (2007) Recent climate trends and implications for water resources in the Catskill Mountain region, New York, USA. J Hydrol 336:155–170. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. CESE (2014) La gouvernance par la gestion intégrée des ressources en eau au Maroc : Levier fondamental de développement durable. Rabat, MarocGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen H, Guo S, Xu C-y, Singh VP (2007) Historical temporal trends of hydro-climatic variables and runoff response to climate variability and their relevance in water resource management in the Hanjiang basin. J Hydrology 344(3–4):171–184Google Scholar
  14. Daoudi L, Saidi M (2008) Floods in semi-arid zone: example of the Ourika (High Atlas of Marrakech, Morocco). Int Sci J Altern Energy Ecol 5:117–123Google Scholar
  15. Driouech, F (2010) Distribution des précipitations hivernales sur le Maroc dans le cadre d’un changement climatique: descente d’échelle et incertitudes. PhD Dissertation, Institut National Polytechnique de ToulouseGoogle Scholar
  16. Esper J, Frank D, Büntgen U, Verstege A, Luterbacher J, Xoplaki E (2007) Long-term drought severity variations in Morocco. Geophys Res Lett 34:1–5. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fatna B, Handoufe A (1997) La sécheresse agricole au Maroc. Proc Intl Conf: Sustainability of water resources under increasing uncertainty. Rabat, Maroc, Avril 1997Google Scholar
  18. Filahi S, Tanarhte M, Mouhir L, El Morhit M, Tramblay Y (2015) Trends in indices of daily temperature and precipitations extremes in Morocco. Theor Appl Climatol 124:959–972. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gosain AK, Rao S, Basuray D (2006) Climate change impact assessment on hydrology of Indian river basins. Curr Sci 90:346–353Google Scholar
  20. Hayes M, Svoboda M, Wall N, Widhalm M (2011) The Lincoln Declaration on Drought Indices: universal meteorological drought index recommended. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 92:485–488. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Helsel DR, Hirsch RM (1992) Statistical methods in water resources, 1st edn. Elsevier, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Hipel keith W, Mcleod AI (1994) Time series modelling of water resources and environmental systems, 1st edn. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  23. Hirsch RM, Slack JR, Smith RA (1982) Techniques of trend analysis for monthly water-quality data. Water Resour Res 18:107–121. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hurrell JW, Van Loon H (1997) Decadal variations in climate associated with the North Atlantic oscillation. Clim Chang 36:301–326. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (2012) Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. Cambridge, New York, United Kingdom, United States. Available at Accessed Jan 2018
  26. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (2014) Climate change 2014 synthesis report. Geneva, Switzerland. Available at Accessed Jan 2018
  27. JICA (2007) Etude du plan de gestion intégrée des ressources en eau dans la plaine du Haouz royaume du Maroc. Rabat, MarocGoogle Scholar
  28. Kendall MG (1938) A new measure of rank correlation. Biometrika 30:81–93. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kendall MG (1970) Rank correlation methods, 4th edn. Charles Griffin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Khomsi K, Mahe G, Tramblay Y, Sinan M, Snoussi M (2016) Regional impacts of global change: seasonal trends in extreme rainfall, run-off and temperature in two contrasting regions of Morocco. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 16:1079–1090. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Knippertz P, Christoph M, Speth P (2003) Long-term precipitation variability in Morocco and the link to the large-scale circulation in recent and future climates. Meteorog Atmos Phys 83:67–88. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Knippertz P, Fink AH (2009) Prediction of dry-season precipitation in tropical West Africa and its relation to forcing from the extratropics. Weather Forecast 24:1064–1084. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lamb PJ, Peppler RA (1987) North Atlantic oscillation: concept and an application. Am Meteorol Soc 68:1218–1225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Li F, Zhang G, Xu YJ (2014) Spatiotemporal variability of climate and streamflow in the Songhua River Basin, Northeast China. J Hydrol 514:53–64. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Li L, Shen H, Dai S, Li H, Xiao J (2013) Response of water resources to climate change and its future trend in the source region of the Yangtze River. J Geogr Sci 23:208–218. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lionboui H, Benabdelouahab T, Elame F, Hasib A, Boulli A (2016a) Multi-year agro-economic modelling for predicting changes in irrigation water management indicators in the Tadla sub-basin. Int J Agric Manag 5:96–105. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lionboui H, Benabdelouahab T, Hasib A, Boulli A (2016b) Analysis of farms performance using different sources of irrigation water : a case study in a semi-arid area. Int J Agric Manag Dev 6:145–154Google Scholar
  38. Liu X, Xu Z, Yu R (2011) Trend of climate variability in China during the past decades. Clim Chang 109:503–516. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lu H, Bryant RB, Buda AR, Collick AS, Folmar GJ, Kleinman PJA (2015) Long-term trends in climate and hydrology in an agricultural, headwater watershed of Central Pennsylvania, USA. J Hydrol Reg Stud 4:713–731. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mann HB (1945) Nonparametric tests against trend. Econometrica 13:245–259. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mckee TB, Doesken NJ, Kleist J (1993) The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. Proc Intl Conf: Applied climatology. Anaheim, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  42. MEMEE (Ministère de l’Energie, des Mines, de l’Eau et de l’Environnement) (2008) Etude pour la réalisation d’une cartographie et d’un système d’information géographique sur les risques majeurs au Maroc. Rabat, Maroc. Available at Accessed Feb 2018
  43. Mokhtari N, Mrabet R, Lebailly P, Bock L (2013) Spatialisation des bioclimats, de l’aridité et des étages de végétation du Maroc. Rev Marocaine des Sci Agron Vétérinaires 2:50–66Google Scholar
  44. Moniod F, Roche M (1973) Étude hydrologicpe de l’Oum Er-Rbia. Cah l’ORSTOM série Hydrol 10:153–170Google Scholar
  45. Mougou R, Mansour M, Iglesias A, Chebbi Zitouna R, Battaglini A (2011) Climate change and agricultural vulnerability: a case study of rain-fed wheat in Kairouan, Central Tunisia. Reg Environ Chang 11:137–142. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Navas A, Machin J, Gaspar L, Sadiki A, Kabiri L, Faleh A (2013) Les sols dans le pays du Ziz (Sud-est marocain) Caractéristiques et aspects de dégradation. Fès, MarocGoogle Scholar
  47. Ouatiki H, Boudhar A, Tramblay Y, Jarlan L, Benabdelouhab T, Hanich L, El Meslouhi M, Chehbouni A (2017) Evaluation of TRMM 3B42 V7 rainfall product over the Oum Er Rbia watershed in Morocco. Climate 5:1–17. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schilling J, Freier KP, Hertig E, Scheffran J (2012) Climate change, vulnerability and adaptation in North Africa with focus on Morocco. Agric Ecosyst Environ 156:12–26. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sen PK (1968) Estimates of the regression coefficient based on Kendall’s tau. J Am Stat Assoc 63:1379–1389. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sousa PM, Trigo RM, Aizpurua P, Nieto R, Gimeno L, Garcia-Herrera R (2011) Trends and extremes of drought indices throughout the 20th century in the Mediterranean. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 11:33–51. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Terêncio DPS, Sanches Fernandes LF, Cortes RMV, Moura JP, Pacheco FAL (2018) Rainwater harvesting in catchments for agro-forestry uses: a study focused on the balance between sustainability values and storage capacity. Sci Total Environ 613–614:1079–1092. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Terêncio DPS, Sanches Fernandes LF, Cortes RMV, Pacheco FAL (2017) Improved framework model to allocate optimal rainwater harvesting sites in small watersheds for agro-forestry uses. J Hydrol 550:318–330. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Theil H (1950) A rank-invariant method of linear and polynomial regression analysis. I, II, III. Ned Akad van Wet Proc 53:386–392 521–525, 1397–1412Google Scholar
  54. Tramblay Y, El AS, Servat E (2013) Trends and variability in extreme precipitation indices over maghreb countries. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 13:3235–3248. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. USAID (United States Agency for International Development) (2010) Morocco economic competitiveness Moulouya and Oum Er-Rbia watersheds: organizational it and management system needs. Rabat, MoroccoGoogle Scholar
  56. WMO (2012) Standardized precipitation index user guide. WMO-No. 10, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  57. WMO, GWP (2016) Handbook of drought indicators and indices, Geneva. WMO-No. 11Google Scholar
  58. Xoplaki E, González-Rouco JF, Luterbacher J, Wanner H (2004) Wet season Mediterranean precipitation variability: influence of large-scale dynamics and trends. Clim Dyn 23:63–78. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Sciences and Techniques, Water Resources Management and Valorization and Remote Sensing TeamSultan Moulay Slimane UniversityBeni MellalMorocco
  2. 2.Faculty of Sciences and Techniques, Department of MathematicsSultan Moulay Slimane UniversityBeni-MellalMorocco
  3. 3.National Institute of Agricultural ResearchRabatMorocco

Personalised recommendations