Online Drought Indicators and Indices

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)


Index name: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).

Ease of use: Green.

Origins: Developed from work done by Tarpley et al. and Kogan with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States.

Characteristics: Uses the global vegetation index data, which are produced by mapping 4 km daily radiance. Radiance values measured in both the visible and near-infrared channels are used to calculate NDVI. It measures greenness and vigour of vegetation over a seven-day period as a way of reducing cloud contamination and can identify drought-related stress to vegetation.

Input parameters: NOAA AVHRR satellite data.

Applications: Used for identifying and monitoring droughts affecting agriculture.

Strengths: Innovative in the use of satellite data to monitor the health of vegetation in relation to drought episodes. Very high resolution and great spatial coverage.

Weaknesses: Data processing is vital to NDVI, and a robust system is needed for this step. Satellite data do not have a long history.

Resources: The literature describes the methodology and calculations. NDVI products are available at NOAA STAR – Global Vegetation Health Products webpage. Global NDVI data can be found at the Copernicus Global Land Service, while European NDVI data are accessible at The World Data Center for Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere. Additional resources are available at the Flood and Drought portal developed by GEF, UN Environment, IWA and DHI.

Kogan, F.N., 1995: Droughts of the late 1980s in the United States as derived from NOAA polar-orbiting satellite data. Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society, 76(5):655–668. DOI: 10.1175/1520-0477(1995)076<0655:DOTLIT>2.0.CO;2.

Tarpley, J.D., S.R. Schneider and R.L. Money, 1984: Global vegetation indices from the NOAA-7 meteorological satellite. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology, 23:491–494. DOI: 10.1175/1520-0450(1984)023<0491:GVIFTN>2.0.CO;2.

Currently used by: Chile, Pakistan.

  1. Edson Nhawu
    April 28, 2021 Reply

    1.What is the relationship between the NDVI ,VCI and TCI in drought damage assessment

    2.what is the relationship between NDVI and Dry matter productivity in drought damage assessment

    I seek to ask for clarity in those aspects mentioned above.
    Yours sincerely
    Edson Nhawu

    1. Katrin Ehlert
      May 6, 2021 Reply

      Dear Edson Nhawu
      All NDVI, VCI and TCI are indicators for vegetation health. The VCI is calculated using the NDVI. These indices are used for drought assessment of vegetation in situations where agricultural impacts are the primary concern.
      One way to connect NDVI, VCI, TCI and DMP to impact assessment would be to connect index values to observed losses in historic events. This is how drought severity can be determined.
      Best regards
      IDMP TSU

  2. Endale
    February 18, 2020 Reply

    please send me an application of NDVI in drought monitoring

    1. Katrin Ehlert
      February 20, 2020 Reply

      Dear Endale

      The following product includes maps of the NDVI:

      Here is a product that includes NDVI maps for drought monitoring:

      Best regards
      IDMP team

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