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Water Resources Research

A tool for calculating the Palmer drought indices

Authors

  • John Jacobi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    2. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    3. Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    • Corresponding author: J. Jacobi, Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37212, USA. (john.h.jacobi@vanderbilt.edu)

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  • Debra Perrone,

    1. Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    2. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    3. Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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  • Leslie Lyons Duncan,

    1. Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    2. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    3. Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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  • George Hornberger

    1. Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    2. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    3. Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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Abstract

[1] This paper presents a tool for calculating the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and associated drought indices. The PDSI is a widely used drought index, yet the complexity and lack of transparency associated with the calculation of the PDSI makes it difficult for a researcher to independently calculate the index. Researchers are often forced to use PDSI values supplied by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or some other third party. The MATLAB tool presented here is easy to use, thoroughly documented, and transparent. The tool was developed by checking an independently developed code against NCDC's FORTRAN code. Discrepancies between the MATLAB tool and the NCDC code are documented. Researchers using the tool will be able to easily calculate the Palmer drought indices for data inputs of any length and at any spatial scale.

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