Huang, JX; Zhuo, W; Li, Y; Huang, R; Sedano, F; Su, W; Dong, JW; Tian, LY; Huang, YB; Zhu, DH; Zhang, XD (2020). Comparison of three remotely sensed drought indices for assessing the impact of drought on winter wheat yield. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DIGITAL EARTH, 13(4), 504-526.

Agricultural drought threatens food security. Numerous remote-sensing drought indices have been developed, but their different principles, assumptions and physical quantities make it necessary to compare their suitability for drought monitoring over large areas. Here, we analyzed the performance of three typical remote sensing-based drought indices for monitoring agricultural drought in two major agricultural production regions in Shaanxi and Henan provinces, northern China (predominantly rain-fed and irrigated agriculture, respectively): vegetation health index (VHI), temperature vegetation dryness index (TVDI) and drought severity index (DSI). We compared the agreement between these indices and the standardized precipitation index (SPI), soil moisture, winter wheat yield and National Meteorological Drought Monitoring (NMDM) maps. On average, DSI outperformed the other indices, with stronger correlations with SPI and soil moisture. DSI also corresponded better with soil moisture and NMDM maps. The jointing and grain-filling stages of winter wheat are more sensitive to water stress, indicating that winter wheat required more water during these stages. Moreover, the correlations between the drought indices and SPI, soil moisture, and winter wheat yield were generally stronger in Shaanxi province than in Henan province, suggesting that remote-sensing drought indices provide more accurate predictions of the impacts of drought in predominantly rain-fed agricultural areas.