Online Drought Indicators and Indices

Vegetation Condition Index (VCI)


Index name: Vegetation Condition Index (VCI).

Ease of use: Green.

Origins: Developed from work done by Kogan with NOAA in the United States.

Characteristics: Using AVHRR thermal bands, VCI is used to identify drought situations and determine the onset, especially in areas where drought episodes are localized and ill defined. It focuses on the impact of drought on vegetation and can provide information on the onset, duration and severity of drought by noting vegetation changes and comparing them with historical values.

Input parameters: AVHRR satellite data.

Applications: Used in conjunction with NDVI and TCI for assessment of vegetation in drought situations affecting agriculture.

Strengths: High resolution and good spatial coverage.

Weaknesses: Potential for cloud contamination as well as a short period of record.

Resources: Methodology and calculations are provided in the literature and online products are available at the NOAA STAR – Global Vegetation Health Products webpage. Additional resources can be found at the Copernicus Global Land Service and the Flood and Drought portal developed by GEF, UN Environment, IWA and DHI.

Kogan, F.N., 1995: Application of vegetation index and brightness temperature for drought detection. Advances in Space Research, 15(11): 91–100. DOI: 10.1016/0273-1177(95)00079-T. (For more information on this paper, please contact the IDMP HelpDesk).

Liu, W.T. and F.N. Kogan, 1996: Monitoring regional drought using the Vegetation Condition Index. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 17(14): 2761–2782. DOI: 10.1080/01431169608949106. (For more information on this paper, please contact the IDMP HelpDesk).

Kogan, F.N. 1997: Global drought watch from space. Published Online: 1 April 1997. Bulletin of the American Meteorological SocietyDOI: 10.1175/1520-0477(1997)078<0621:GDWFS>2.0.CO;2.

Currently used by: Iran.

  1. Vincent Ifeanyi Uche
    April 28, 2021 Reply

    can you kindly share the relationship between agricultural drought and vegetation condition index, Thanks

    1. Katrin Ehlert
      May 6, 2021 Reply

      Dear Vincent Ifeanyi Uche
      Agricultural drought is on of the so-called drought types, which have been established based on drought impacts. It refers to the impacts on agriculture by factors such as rainfall deficits, soil water deficits, reduced ground water, or reservoir levels needed for irrigation.
      The vegetation condition index (VCI) is an index derived from remotely sensed information. It compares the current Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) to the range of values observed in the same period in previous years.
      Agricultural drought has most impacts of the drought located in the agriculture sector. Therefore crop growth and condition are affected. Hence, the VCI is one option to look at vegetation condition and characterize agricultural drought.
      Best regards
      IDMP team

  2. Endale
    February 12, 2020 Reply

    please share your experience how to calculate TCI from VCI

    1. Katrin Ehlert
      February 20, 2020 Reply

      Dear Endale

      Both TCI and VCI are indices calculated from remote sensing data. They use, however different observation input. The Vegetation Condition Index (VCI) uses information from the visible and near infra-red parts of the spectrum and is calculated from the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). For the calculation of the Temperature Condition Index (TCI) observations in thermal bands are used. All data can be collected using an Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR).

      Kind regards
      IDMP team

  3. TABOU Talahatou
    August 30, 2017 Reply

    VCI calculor method

    1. Robert Stefanski
      August 30, 2017 Reply
      1. Robert Stefanski
        August 30, 2017 Reply

        We have added a link to the reference from F. Kogan on “Global Drought Watch from Space” in the above page.

  4. Dagim
    October 28, 2016 Reply

    plz send detail Vegetation Condition Index (VCI).

    1. Robert Stefanski
      October 31, 2016 Reply

      Dear Dagim,

      Please look at the website: . Also, please look at the references list on the page.

      Best regards,


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