This study examines drought patterns in Ethiopia's 12 major river basins from 1981 to 2018 using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI). Both indices reveal historical drought episodes with slight variations, with significant differences in 1984, 2009, and 2015. Except for the Wabi-Shebelle catchment in southern Ethiopia, all river basins show an increasing trend in SPI12 and SPEI12 indices. The eastern and central regions experience more drought according to SPEI3. Seasonal correlations show that during the March–May rainy season, precipitation is negatively correlated with the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) index, while in the June–September season, it negatively correlates with Nino 3.4 and positively with IOD. The study also found that El Niño leads to less rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands, while La Niña results in more rainfall in the central and northern highlands but less in the south.

  • Our article is the first of its kind from an Ethiopian country, applying different techniques to quantify ocean–atmospheric interactions.

  • Particularly, Indian Ocean Dipole and Indian monsoon effects on Ethiopian climate are very little studied; our promising results are crucial for the modeling and prediction of rainfall by the National Meteorological Agency, Ethiopia.

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