Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 571-585, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
13 Mar 2015
Assessing drought cycles in SPI time series using a Fourier analysis
E. E. Moreira1, D. S. Martins2, and L. S. Pereira3 1CMA – Center of Mathematics and Applications, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, Nova University of Lisbon, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal
2Institute Dom Luiz, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal
3LEAF, Research Center for Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food, Institute of Agronomy, University of Lisbon, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal
Abstract. In this study, drought in Portugal was assessed using 74 time series of Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) with a 12-month timescale and 66 years length. A clustering analysis on the SPI Principal Components loadings was performed in order to find regions where SPI drought characteristics are similar. A Fourier analysis was then applied to the SPI time series considering one SPI value per year relative to every month. The analysis focused on the December SPI time series grouped in each of the three identified clusters to investigate the existence of cycles that could be related to the return periods of droughts. The most frequent significant cycles in each of the three clusters were identified and analysed for December and the other months. Results for December show that drought periodicities vary among the three clusters, pointing to a 6-year cycle across the country and a 9.4-year cycle in central and southern Portugal. Both these cycles likely show the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) on the occurrence and severity of droughts in Portugal. Relative to other months it was observed that cycles varied according to the common occurrence of precipitation: for the rainy months – November, December and January – cycles are similar to those for December; for the dry months – May to September – where the lack of precipitation masks the occurrence of drought, the dominant cycles are of short duration and cannot be related to the NAO or other large circulation indices to explain drought variability; for the transition months – February, March, April and October – 6-year and 3-year cycles were identified, the latter being more strongly apparent in central and southern Portugal. NAO influence is again identified relative to the 6-year cycles. The short cycles are apparently associated with positive SPI, thus with wetness, not drought. Overall, results confirm the importance of the NAO as a driving force for dry and wet periods.

Citation: Moreira, E. E., Martins, D. S., and Pereira, L. S.: Assessing drought cycles in SPI time series using a Fourier analysis, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 571-585,, 2015.
Publications Copernicus