Nonirrigated agriculture on the Iberian Peninsula is regularly affected by dry periods that can cause important losses. This paper focuses on the comparison of the classical Standard Precipitation Index (SPI) with a fragility index developed by the multivariate extreme value theory community, which is used to describe monthly precipitation deficits below 30.5 mm (about 1 mm/d) in the Spanish Duero basin. The multivariate extreme value model allows to capture relevant information concerning the dependence structure among extreme precipitation deficits. Maps of those extremal dependence summaries and of loadings of principal components of the SPI provide quantitative information for water management. In addition, jointly analyzing data from several stations improves the inference of uncertainty. Spatial patterns of extremal dependence emerged with respect to orographic features. Most severe dry spells occur in the southeast of the Duero basin. In central plain of the Duero basin, a predominantly agricultural area, a strong fragility index for severity of dry spells is particularly found in eastern regions. Results of the MEVT and SPI analysis point in the same direction. Beyond this, the MEVT assessment gives a quantitative measure of the dependence between stations and regions. Estimates of return periods for extreme dry spell severity are discussed. Deficits below 42.7 mm are also analyzed.
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