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Journal of Arid Land  2021, Vol. 13 Issue (5): 470-486    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0064-7
Research article     
Response of hydrological drought to meteorological drought in the eastern Mediterranean Basin of Turkey
Türkan BAYER ALTIN*(), Bekir N ALTIN
Department of Geography, Faculty of Science and Letters, Niğde Ömer Halisdemir University, Niğde 51240, Turkey
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The hydrographic eastern Mediterranean Basin of Turkey is a drought sensitive area. The basin is an important agricultural area and it is necessary to determine the extent of extreme regional climatic changes as they occur in this basin. Pearson's correlation coefficient was used to show the correlation between standardized precipitation index (SPI) and standardized streamflow index (SSI) values on different time scales. Data from five meteorological stations and seven stream gauging stations in four sub-basins of the eastern Mediterranean Basin were analyzed over the period from 1967 to 2017. The correlation between SSI and SPI indicated that in response to meteorological drought, hydrological drought experiences a one-year delay then occurs in the following year. This is more evident at all stations from the mid-1990s. The main factor causing hydrological drought is prolonged low precipitation or the presence of a particularly dry year. Results showed that over a long period (12 months), hydrological drought is longer and more severe in the upper part than the lower part of the sub-basins. According to SPI-12 values, an uninterrupted drought period is observed from 2002-2003 to 2008-2009. Results indicated that among the drought events, moderate drought is the most common on all timescales in all sub-basins during the past 51 years. Long-term dry periods with moderate and severe droughts are observed for up to 10 years or more since the late 1990s, especially in the upper part of the sub-basins. As precipitation increases in late autumn and early winter, the stream flow also increases and thus the highest and most positive correlation values (0.26-0.54) are found in January. Correlation values (ranging between -0.11 and -0.01) are weaker and negative in summer and autumn due to low rainfall. This is more evident at all stations in September. The relation between hydrological and meteorological droughts is more evident, with the correlation values above 0.50 on longer timescales (12- and 24-months). The results presented in this study allow an understanding of the characteristics of drought events and are instructive for overcoming drought. This will facilitate the development of strategies for the appropriate management of water resources in the eastern Mediterranean Basin, which has a high agricultural potential.

Key wordsmeteorological drought      hydrological drought      standardized precipitation index (SPI)      standardized streamflow index (SSI)      eastern Mediterranean Basin     
Received: 22 October 2020      Published: 10 May 2021
Corresponding Authors: Türkan BAYER ALTIN     E-mail:
About author: *Türkan BAYER ALTIN(E-mail:
Cite this article:

Türkan BAYER ALTIN, Bekir N ALTIN. Response of hydrological drought to meteorological drought in the eastern Mediterranean Basin of Turkey. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 470-486.

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Fig. 1 Location of the eastern Mediterranean Basin (a) and distributions of meteorological stations and stream gauging stations in the eastern Mediterranean Basin (b). D17A007, Pamuk; D17A011, Efrenk; D17A016, Kravga; D17A017, G?rdürüp; E17A014, Karahac?l?; E17A020, Hamam; E17A017, Lamas.
Stream gauging
station code
station name
Period Elevation
Basin area
Latitude Longitude
D17A017 G?ksu/G?rdürüp 1967-2017 1241 364 37°06′49′′N 32°18′27′′E
D17A016 G?ksu/Kravga 1967-2017 233 2994 36°46′54′′N 33°11′15′′E
E17A020 G?ksu/Hamam 1967-2017 127 4304 36°38′09′′N 33°22′10′′E
E17A014 G?ksu/Karahac?l? 1967-2017 24 10,065 36°24′13′′N 33°48′56′′E
D17A011 Efrenk 1967-2017 125 410 36°51′42′′N 34°33′11′′E
D17A007 Pamuk 1967-2017 132 599 37°01′50′′N 34°46′06′′E
E17A017 Lamas 1967-2017 975 1005 36°45′43′′N 33°54′58′′E
Table 1 Geographical properties, observation and analyzed periods for the stream gauging stations
Period Elevation
precipitation (mm)
Latitude Longitude
Hadim G?ksu 1967-2017 1461 646 36°59′09′′N 32°27′21′′E
Mut G?ksu 1967-2017 340 402 36°38′42′′N 33°26′13′′E
Mersin Efrenk 1967-2017 5 587 36°48′43′′N 34°38′28′′E
Erdemli Alata 1967-2017 10 526 36°36′20′′N 34°18′36′′E
Silifke G?ksu 1967-2017 30 556 36°22′33′′N 33°55′28′′E
Table 2 Geographical properties, location, observation and analyzed periods for the meteorological stations
State Description Criterion
0 Non-drought SPI, SSI≥0.0
1 Mild drought -1.0≤SPI, SSI<0.0
2 Moderate drought -1.5≤SPI, SSI< -1.0
3 Severe drought -2.0≤SPI, SSI< -1.5
4 Extreme drought SPI, SSI≤ -2.0
Table 3 Classification scale for standardized streamflow index (SSI) and standardized precipitation index (SPI) values (McKee et al., 1993)
Fig. 2 Standardized streamflow index (SSI) and standardized precipitation index (SPI) series at seven stream gauging stations for time scales of 3 (Oct-Dec; a, c, e, g, i, k, m) and 6 (Oct-Mar; b, d, f, h, j, l, n) months from 1967 to 2017
Fig. 3 SSI and SPI series at seven stream gauging stations for time scales of 9 (Oct-Jun; a, c, e, g, i, k, m) and 12 (Oct-Sep, annual; b, d, f, h, j, l, n) months from 1967 to 2017
Fig. 4 Percentage of drought year in SPI series (a) and SSI series (b) in different sub-basins of the eastern Mediterranean Basin on different time scales (3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-month) from 1967 to 2017, as well as percentage of drought occurrence in different sub-basins in SPI and SSI series (c-i)
Fig. 5 Correlation coefficients between SSI and SPI for timescales of 1, 3, 6, 9, 12 and 24 months (a) and correlation coefficients between SSI and SPI for each month (b). Note that the x-axis in the right panel represents the 12 months of the year.
Month River Gauging station
G?rdürüp Lamas Kravga Hamam Pamuk Efrenk Karahac?l?
January 0.29 0.26 0.47 0.52 0.50 0.54 0.48
February -0.05 0.07 0.05 0.06 0.33 0.41 0.20
March 0.05 0.05 0.36 0.37 0.15 0.31 0.12
April 0.44 0.26 0.37 0.30 0.27 0.27 0.35
May 0.13 0.20 0.15 0.17 0.17 0.12 0.09
June 0.28 0.22 0.35 0.16 0.27 0.04 0.08
July 0.27 0.08 0.22 0.09 -0.04 -0.02 0.02
August 0.12 -0.01 -0.05 -0.10 0.20 -0.02 -0.10
September 0.15 -0.11 -0.01 -0.14 -0.40 -0.17 -0.16
October 0.06 0.13 -0.01 0.13 -0.08 0.18 0.02
November 0.24 -0.01 0.21 0.35 0.15 -0.05 0.00
December -0.04 -0.07 0.16 0.04 0.02 -0.06 -0.17
Table 4 Correlation coefficients between SSI and SPI for 12 months of the year
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