Natural Hazards

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 1249–1274 | Cite as

A new approach for developing comprehensive agricultural drought index using satellite-derived biophysical parameters and factor analysis method

  • Mohammad Hossein Mokhtari
  • Robiah Adnan
  • Ibrahim Busu
Original Paper


The accurate assessment of drought and its monitoring is highly depending on the selection of appropriate indices. Despite the availability of countless drought indices, due to variability in environmental properties, a single universally drought index has not been presented yet. In this study, a new approach for developing comprehensive agricultural drought index from satellite-derived biophysical parameters is presented. Therefore, the potential of satellite-derived biophysical parameters for improved understanding of the water status of pistachio (Pistachio vera L.) crop grown in a semiarid area is evaluated. Exploratory factor analysis with principal component extraction method is performed to select the most influential parameters from seven biophysical parameters including surface temperature (T s), surface albedo (α), leaf area index (LAI), soil heat flux (G o), soil-adjusted vegetation index (SAVI), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and net radiation (R n). T s and G o were found as the most effective parameters by this method. However, T s, LAI, α, and SAVI that accounts for 99.6 % of the total variance of seven inputs were selected to model a new biophysical water stress index (BPWSI). The values of BPWSI were stretched independently and compared with the range of actual evapotranspiration estimated through well-known METRIC (mapping evapotranspiration at high resolution with internal calibration) energy balance model. The results showed that BPWSI can be efficiently used for the prediction of the pistachio water status (RMSE of 0.52, 0.31, and 0.48 mm/day on three image dates of April 28, July 17, and August 2, 2010). The study confirmed that crop water status is accounted by several satellite-based biophysical parameters rather than single parameter.


Biophysical water stress index Drought Evapotranspiration Factor analysis Principal component analysis Remote sensing 



The authors greatly appreciate for technical guidance and providing the program for calculating atmospheric stability correction by Prof. Dr. Christopher Conrad (Universität Würzburg). Also, we acknowledge the World Bank and the Robert S. McNamara Fellowship Program for providing the financial support and agricultural organization of Yazd city for technical support during the field measurements. In addition, the authors would like to thank the University of Idaho and the National Aeronautics and Space Administratio n (NASA) team for providing REF-ET software and free Landsat TM data, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad Hossein Mokhtari
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robiah Adnan
    • 3
  • Ibrahim Busu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Remote Sensing, Faculty of Geo-information and Real EstateUniversity Technology of Malaysia (UTM)Johor BahruMalaysia
  2. 2.Faculty of Natural ResourcesYazd UniversityYazdIran
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics, Faculty of ScienceUniversity Technology of Malaysia (UTM)Johor BahruMalaysia

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