Abstract

Severe droughts in the year 1998 and 2014 in Sarawak due to strong El Nino has impacted the water supply and irrigated agriculture. In this study, the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) was used for drought identification and monitoring in Sarawak River Basin. Using monthly precipitation data between the year 1975 and 2016 for 15 rainfall stations in the basin, the drought index values were obtained for the time scale of three, six and nine months. Rainfall trend for the years in study was also assessed using the Mann–Kendall test and Sen's slope estimator and compared with the drought index. Findings showed that generally there was a decreasing trend for the SPI values for the three time scales, indicating a higher tendency of increased drought event throughout the basin. Furthermore, it was observed that there was an increase in the numbers of dry months in the recent decade for most of the rainfall stations as compared to the previous 30 to 40 years, which could be due to climate change. Findings from this study are valuable for the planning and formulating of drought strategies to reduce and mitigate the adverse effects of drought.

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