Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI)

Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI)


Index name: Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI).

Ease of use: Yellow.

Origins: Part of the suite of indices developed by Palmer in the 1960s with the United States Weather Bureau.

Characteristics: Based on the original PDSI and modified to take into account longer-term dryness that will affect water storage, streamflow and groundwater. PHDI has the ability to calculate when a drought will end based on precipitation needed by using a ratio of moisture received to moisture required to end a drought. There are four drought categories: near normal, which occurs approximately 28%–50% percent of the time; mild to moderate, which occurs approximately 11%–27% percent of the time; severe, which occurs approximately 5%–10% percent of the time; and extreme, which will occur approximately 4% of the time.

Input parameters: Monthly temperature and precipitation. Information on the water-holding capacity of soils can be used, but defaults are also available. A serially complete record of temperature and precipitation data is required.

Applications: Most useful for taking into account drought affecting water resources on longer timescales.

Strengths: Its water balance approach allows the total water system to be considered.

Weaknesses: Frequencies will vary by region and time of year, where extreme drought may not be a rare event during some months of the year. The impact of human influences, such as management decisions and irrigation, are not considered in the calculations.

Resources: The code can be found in the original Palmer paper in the reference below. More explanations can be found in: Jacobi, J., D. Perrone, L. Lyons Duncan and G. Hornberger, 2013: A tool for calculating the Palmer drought indices. Water Resources Research, 49: 6086–6089. DOI: 10.1002/wrcr.20342.

Reference: Palmer, W.C., 1965: Meteorological Drought. Research Paper No. 45. United States Weather Bureau, Washington, DC.

Currently used by: Trinidad and Tobago.

19 Responses

    1. Dear Simon

      According to the paper (e.g. pp 21, 27, 28), an X is used for the drought index.

      Best regards
      IDMP TSU

  1. I know there are drought reconstructions for North America using PDSI that rely on data from tree- ring sequences and go back about 2000 years. Do you know if it is possible to use tree-ring data to compute the PHDI? If so, has anyone done it? The 2013 Jacobi et al paper seems to say that computing PHDI depends on much the same kinds of data as computing PDSI.

  2. Dear Sir/Madam,
    Hi, recently, I built a GRACE-based hydrological drought index from 2002 to 2017 and I want to compare it with PHDI. So could you please provide the data at a global scale if the data has covered the period of 2002-2017 or MatLab code for me to calculate PHDI by myself? Thank you very much in advance.
    Best wishes, Aihong

  3. i am Ms c student in engineering hydrology , now i fishiness the course ,but i can not do the thesis/paper ..due to lack of reference books ..research paper and software related to my topic ((((( ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION OF HYDRO LOGICAL DROUGHT ANALYSIS USING DROUGHT INDEX, IN THE UPPER BLUE NILE BASIN))))))))……so i need from you is that
    1, related books and references ,research papers with detail explained form
    2, software’s …thank you for fast response…!!!!!!

  4. i am a student in Msc in hydrology enginering…so as much as possible please help me..a want your hand

  5. please send your work on hydrlogical drought analysis based on different drought analysis indce pdf in detail

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