A near real-time drought monitoring system for Spain using automatic weather station network
Drought monitoring is essential to determine, at short time intervals, the main characteristics of drought events, such as their duration, severity, and spatial distribution. To ensure that drought monitoring represents a useful tool for governmental plans aimed at preventing or minimizing drought impacts, up-to-date information must be instantaneously accessible and it must provide high spatial and temporal resolution. This study presents a system that allows the automatic tracking of meteorological droughts in the Spanish territory, based on an open and easy-to-use online platform (https://monitordesequia.csic.es/monitor). This drought monitoring system provides two drought synthetic indices: the Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) and the Standardised Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI). Information is provided on a quasi-weekly basis, in a grid format, with a spatial resolution of 1.1*1.1 km, and with data from 1961 to the present time. This drought monitor is updated based on the real-time information gathered from automatic stations, which in turn requires historic information to identify and track drought events. The drought indices are obtained from data processing (quality control, temporal series reconstruction, homogenisation, interpolation, and validation) using climatic variables (maximum and minimum temperatures, solar radiation, rainfall, dew point, and wind speed) which are provided by the Spanish Meteorology Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Spanish Government. We performed a validation of the drought indices for the whole historical period (1961–2020). This allowed us to observe a strong spatial agreement between the indices obtained with the historical dataset and the indices from the monitoring dataset, especially for mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands (Pearson’s r, SPI and SPEI >0.99). The presented real-time drought monitoring system represents a relevant and useful tool that allows for quick and effective actions to prevent and mitigate the effects of drought on society and ecosystems.