Earth Systems and Environment

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 281–292 | Cite as

Modeling the Spatio-Temporal Meteorological Drought Characteristics Using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) in Raya and Its Environs, Northern Ethiopia

  • Eskinder GideyEmail author
  • Oagile Dikinya
  • Reuben Sebego
  • Eagilwe Segosebe
  • Amanuel Zenebe
Original Article


In Ethiopia, recurrent droughts were associated with El Niño phenomenon, particularly in the study area where the majority of smallholder farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture. The aim of this study was to model the spatio-temporal meteorological drought onset, offset, duration, magnitude, intensity, frequency, severity and spatial extent in Raya and its environs, Northern Ethiopia. Both the ground meteorological stations and TAMSAT (tropical applications of meteorology using satellite and ground-based observations) monthly rainfall data were gathered from the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia for the period 1983–2015. The Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW), a type of the deterministic interpolation method was applied to quantify the amount of seasonal rainfall by producing surface rainfall map. A Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) at 3-month timescale was used to evaluate seasonal rainfall deficit and characterize meteorological drought. The results revealed that all sites obtained minimal and irregular rainfall, hence led to catastrophic droughts. Also, the findings showed that there was high rainfall variability across the study area that ranged from 28.14 to 42.32%. As a result, mild-to-severe meteorological drought phenomena were observed once in every 2–3 years. This incidence was found to be high in terms of spatial and temporal coverage during the last three decades. Therefore, this study may help to offer better insight for policymakers to establish drought mitigation and adaptation strategies.


Meteorological drought characteristics Rainfall SPI-3 Raya Ethiopia 



We are grateful for the research fund provided by Mekelle University and the OSF–ACCAI project of Mekelle University, Ethiopia. The main author is thankful for the PhD scholarship given by the TreccAfrica II project. The authors would also like to acknowledge the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia (NMA) for providing the climatic data. We would also like to thank the constructive feedback of the two anonymous reviewers and the editor.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eskinder Gidey
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Oagile Dikinya
    • 1
  • Reuben Sebego
    • 1
  • Eagilwe Segosebe
    • 1
  • Amanuel Zenebe
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of BotswanaGaboroneBotswana
  2. 2.Land Resource Management and Environmental Protection, Mekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia
  3. 3.Institute of Climate and Society, Mekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia

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